Japan’s new PM, Trump discuss free, open India-Pacific vision

Tokyo, Sept. 14, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Yoshihide Suga, new president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), gestures before a press conference in Tokyo, Japan on Sept. 14, 2020. Yoshihide Suga was elected as the new president of the ruling LDP on Monday at a joint plenary meeting of party members from both houses of the Diet and delegates from local chapters. (Nicolas Datiche/Pool via Xinhua/IANS)

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Donald Trump on Sunday discussed the importance of pursuing a shared vision of a free and open India-Pacific and agreed to give a further boost to the Japan-US security alliance.

This is the first conversation held between Suga and Trump over the phone since the Japanese leader assumed office earlier this week.
After the phone talks which went on for 25 minutes, Suga told reporters that he told Trump the Japan-US alliance is the “cornerstone of peace and stability in the region,” Kyodo News reported.

Trump was quoted by Suga as saying that the alliance should be further strengthened and the Japanese Prime Minister is welcome to call him “24 hours a day.”

The two leaders also discussed the situation in North Korea and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Suga, who was elected by Japan’s Parliament on Wednesday as the Prime Minister in nearly eight years, sought Trump’s support in pushing for the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, a Japanese government official was quoted as saying.

The two leaders agreed that both countries will cooperate on the development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, the official said.

Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who announced his resignation in late August due to health issues, shared a close rapport with Trump among world leaders. The two played golf together on several occasions.

Trump had also invited Abe to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida twice — in 2017 and 2018, according to Kyodo News.

Earlier, Suga held a telephonic conversation with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, the first head of government he spoke to since becoming the Prime Minister.

Following his telephonic conversations with Trump and Morrison, Suga said he was looking forward to holding phone calls with other world leaders.

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