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International relations

Abe: 'I have full confidence' in Trump

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, meets U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Nov. 17. (Photo courtesy of Japan's Cabinet Office)

NEW YORK -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed confidence after meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Nov. 17 in New York, becoming the first major world leader to do so since the election.

"We spent a substantial amount of time together and had a very candid discussion, and the atmosphere of the meeting was very cordial," Abe told reporters after the meeting. "I conveyed my basic thoughts on various issues." The two men met in Trump's penthouse in the Trump Tower in Manhattan.

When asked whether Trump offered reassurance about the long-standing security pact between the U.S. and Japan, Abe said, "I will not go into specifics, but I do think that without confidence between two nations, alliances will never function. And with the outcome of today's discussion, I am convinced that Mr. Trump is a leader with whom I can have full confidence."

Abe refrained from providing details of the nearly 90-minute meeting since it was an unofficial discussion because Trump had not yet taken office. Trump will be sworn into office on Jan. 20.

Prime Minister Abe sits down with President-elect Trump at the Trump Tower penthouse.   © Japanese Prime Minister's Office

Trump said in a Facebook post after the meeting: "It was a pleasure to have Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stop by my home and begin a great friendship."

It was expected that Abe would stress the importance of the U.S.-Japan security treaty and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, a trade pact among the U.S., Japan and 10 other countries but opposed by Trump during the presidential campaign.

Abe said he agreed with the president-elect to meet again "at a convenient time to have a wide-ranging conversation, more deeply." Friday's meeting began around 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Trump had initially proposed to meet over dinner, but scheduling conflicts prevented it.

A pre-inauguration visit of this kind is unusual for the Japanese prime minister and signals the concerns Abe and his government have about the uncertainty surrounding the new U.S. president, a Republican real estate developer who has never held elected office.

During the presidential campaign, Trump advocated re-examining the security treaties with Japan and other allies.

At one campaign stop, Trump said in December 2015: "If somebody attacks Japan, we have to immediately go and start World War III, OK? If we get attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us. Somehow, that doesn't sound so fair."

He made similar remarks regarding the U.S. security treaty with South Korea.

Such rhetoric raised anxiety across Asia amid an increasingly fluid regional security situation due to China's growing economic and military clout.

Abe made a stop in New York on his way to Peru, where the annual summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Community will be held.

There, China will likely push for the TPP's rival framework, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a pact comprising China, India, Japan and 10 Southeast Asian nations but not the U.S

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