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Biden's Asia policy

Biden eyes hosting Japan PM Suga as early as April: Axios

Planned meeting not yet final, with later spring date also possible

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, left, and U.S. President Joe Biden (Source photos by Reuters) 

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- U.S. President Joe Biden is planning to host Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the White House as soon as April, the first in-person foreign leader visit of his presidency, online news outlet Axios reported Sunday.

The upcoming meeting, if realized, will provide a chance for the two countries to showcase their robust alliance amid China's increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, including around the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

According to the U.S. news outlet, the plan is yet to be finalized and could slide to later in the spring, with the state of the coronavirus pandemic being a key factor.

The report emerged as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin make arrangements to visit Japan next week for talks with their counterparts, according to Japanese government sources.

Their visit will mark the first trip to Japan by senior members of the administration under Biden, who was sworn in on Jan. 20.

Suga showed eagerness to visit the United States at an early date in his telephone talks with Biden in January.

Biden picked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as his counterpart for what the White House called his "first bilateral meeting" since taking office, but he used a virtual format for the talks.

The 78-year-old president has so far not met foreign leaders in person in Washington or visited other countries as he prioritizes efforts to contain the novel coronavirus.

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