TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will visit the U.S. in the first half of April at the earliest for a meeting with President Joe Biden, which is likely to be his first get-together with a foreign leader since he took office in January, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference on Friday.
The Biden administration considers China policy an important diplomatic and security challenge. The upcoming meeting highlights the importance the U.S. places on Japan as an ally in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Biden administration has so far only held talks with foreign leaders online as it focused on measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Suga's visit in the first half of April would come before the virus is brought under control in either Japan or the U.S.
"Having face-to-face exchanges of frank views is extremely meaningful," Kato said at the news conference. "The government delegation will be limited to the minimum number required, and all accompanying personnel will be vaccinated."
Kato raised three agenda items for the meeting: the situation in the Indo-Pacific region, measures against COVID-19 and climate change.
"We hope that Japan and the United States will further strengthen our relations and work closely together to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific," he said.