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Trump ‘not bothered’ by North Korea missile tests

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said the tests were ‘of great regret’.

Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (Evan Vucci/AP)
Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (Evan Vucci/AP)

US president Donald Trump has said he is not “personally bothered” by recent short-range missile tests conducted by North Korea, breaking with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is hosting the president on a four-day state visit.

Mr Abe, who stood beside Mr Trump at a news conference after hours of talks, disagreed with the US president, saying the missile tests violated US Security Council resolutions and were “of great regret”.

Mr Abe is concerned because the missiles pose a threat to security in Japan.

Mr Abe is hosting Mr Trump on a state visit designed to highlight the US-Japan alliance and showcase the friendship and warm relations between the leaders.

During hours of talks, Mr Trump and Mr Abe deliberated over economic issues, including trade and Iran.

Mr Trump told reporters at Akasaka Palace that “nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.” The US president said: “I do believe Iran would like to talk and if they’d like to talk, we’ll talk also,” adding that Mr Abe has a “very good relationship with Iran”.

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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe with US president Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP)

Japanese media has reported that Mr Abe is considering a visit to Iran next month.

Mr Trump has sought to downplay the significance of North Korea’s missile tests, despite the fact that his own national security adviser, John Bolton, said over the weekend that they violated UN resolutions.

The president continues to hold out hope of eventually getting Kim Jong Un to agree to give up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, despite two summits with the North Korean leader producing no concrete pledge to denuclearise the peninsula.

All I know is there have been no nuclear tests, no ballistic missiles going out, no long-range missiles going out and I think that someday we'll have a deal Donald Trump

Mr Trump praised Mr Kim, calling him a “smart man” who might have launched the missiles earlier this month to “get attention”.

“All I know is there have been no nuclear tests, no ballistic missiles going out, no long-range missiles going out and I think that someday we’ll have a deal,” Mr Trump said, adding that he is in “no rush”.

Mr Abe reiterated his previous statement that the tests were carried out in defiance of the UN.

“This is violating the Security Council resolution,” Mr Abe said, adding that, as North Korea’s neighbour, Japan feels threatened. “It is of great regret. But at the same time between Kim Jong Un and President Trump a certain new approach was taken and that is something that I pay tribute to.”

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The Trumps during a welcoming ceremony with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo (Kyodo News via AP)

The leaders held hours of talks after the US president — at Abe’s invitation — became the first world leader to meet Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, who ascended to the throne on May 1.

The meeting with Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, was preceded by a grand outdoor welcome ceremony at Japan’s Imperial Palace, where Mr Trump walked solo across red carpets, reviewing Japanese troops as the guest of honour.

Mr Trump’s official visit also included golf with Mr Abe, presenting a trophy to a sumo wrestling champion and dinner in Tokyo with their wives.

PA

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