Ahead of US-North Korea summit, Japan's Abe plans to meet with Trump in Washington

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he plans to visit the U.S. this month to discuss North Korea with President Donald Trump ahead of expected summits between the North and the U.S. and South Korea.

Abe said he will travel to the U.S. from April 17 to 20 and hold two days of talks with Trump at the president's Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida to discuss North Korea and bilateral issues. Trump has said he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May.

"I hope to thoroughly discuss North Korea and other issues of mutual interest between Japan and the U.S.," Abe said at a meeting of representatives of his ruling coalition and the government.

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In Washington, the White House said the meeting between the two leaders will "reaffirm the United States-Japan alliance as a cornerstone of peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region." Besides North Korea, they will "explore ways to expand fair and reciprocal trade and investment ties," it said.

Abe has said he wants to remind Trump of shorter-range missiles and other North Korean security threats for Japan, and seek U.S. help on the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea decades ago.

Abe is also expected to discuss stiff U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and urge Trump to exclude Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

The abductees' families last Friday urged Abe to seek Trump's help, saying this could be their last chance to win their aging loved ones' release.

A man watches a TV screen showing file images of U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

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Japan has said North Korea abducted at least 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train agents in Japanese language and culture to spy on South Korea. North Korea, after years of denials, acknowledged in 2002 abducting 13 Japanese. It allowed five of them to visit Japan later that year — and they stayed — but said the other eight had died, though their families say the North's comments cannot be trusted.

Abe visited Trump's resort in February 2017, soon after the president took office.