TOKYO -- United States President Donald Trump discussed a possible bilateral free trade agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Tokyo in the beginning of this month, the U.S. ambassador to Japan said on Friday.
After the summit on Nov. 6, Japanese officials explained that Trump did not refer to a Japan-U.S. FTA. However, U.S. ambassador William Hagerty told journalists at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo that the two leaders "discussed a full range of trade options, including an FTA."
Hagerty said that Washington may push Tokyo for an FTA to help reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Japan, adding that a bilateral agreement is "one of the tools we may need to address that."
Abe is seeking to see the U.S. rejoin the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which Japan and 10 other countries recently agreed in principle to establish. Hagerty said the U.S. "will not commit to this agreement" on the current terms.
On North Korea, Hagerty said the U.S. goal was to "denuclearize" the Korean peninsula. He avoided commenting clearly on Pyongyang's avoidance of provocative actions such as missile launches and nuclear tests in the past two months, and on China's intention to send an envoy to North Korea on Friday.
Trump returned to Washington this week after his first official visit to Asia, a 12-day tour that started with a two-night stay in Japan.