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International relations

New Japan PM Suga plans swift talks with Trump

US ties remain priority under Abe's successor

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a phone conference with U.S. President Donald Trump as soon as possible, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Friday.

The two sides are preparing to speak Sunday night, Japanese broadcaster NHK reports.

Suga was elected prime minister by parliament on Wednesday, succeeding longtime leader Shinzo Abe.

In the phone call, Suga is expected to tell Trump that he will follow the diplomatic policies of Abe, which includes placing the Japan-U.S. alliance front and center.

"Congratulations Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. You have a great life story! I know you will do a tremendous job for Japan and for the world. Look forward to talking soon!" Trump tweeted the following day.

Kato told reporters, "We're happy to have received a heartwarming message" from Trump, adding that "Japan-U.S. relations are extremely important."

Suga acknowledged the congratulatory messages that he received.

"Deeply touched by so many warm messages of congratulations to @sugawitter, including from world leaders. Truly grateful. With the world facing numerous challenges such as COVID-19, I am determined to give everything I've got to address them, working hand-in-hand with you all," Suga tweeted on Saturday.

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