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International relations

US and Japan schedule Biden-Suga meeting for April 16

Talks in Washington set a week later than expected to 'ensure success'

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

TOKYO -- A planned meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden will be held a week later than initially envisioned, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference on Friday.

The meeting is now scheduled for April 16. The two leaders had intended to meet in Washington on April 9, though this date was not formally set. Suga had said the talks would take place in the first half of April.

Kato said the decision was "made to ensure success."

A senior Japanese government official said: "As COVID-19 continues to spreads in the U.S., it takes time to prepare for the arrival of Suga and the team."

This will mark Suga's first visit to the U.S. since he became prime minister, as well as Biden's first in-person meeting with a foreign leader since he took office in January.

Suga told a TV program on Thursday that "building trust with President Biden as two leaders is the most important" priority.

The two sides aim to firm up cooperation ahead of an international summit on climate change, to be held in the U.S. on April 22.

Japan has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The U.S. has also shifted its focus to decarbonization as a crucial goal since Biden took over from Donald Trump.

Japan and the U.S. are also likely to discuss shared concerns about China's expansionist moves. China in February enacted a new law that authorizes its coast guard to seize foreign ships entering waters claimed by Beijing, putting more pressure on Taiwan. Japan is also affected, since it controls the Senkaku Islands, which China claims and calls Diaoyu.

Tokyo and Washington will be looking to tighten their economic and security ties in a show of unity.

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