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Efforts underway to arrange Pence visit to Japan in April for economic talks

Kyodo

The Japanese and U.S. governments are in talks for Vice President Mike Pence to visit Tokyo in April for a bilateral economic dialogue, a Japanese source said Tuesday.

Pence would meet with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, to discuss ways to expand trade and investment between the two countries, the source said.

The two governments will also try to arrange a visit by President Donald Trump to Japan by the end of the year, they said.

“We want him to visit Japan as soon as possible,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in a regularly scheduled news conference Monday. “We want to coordinate it with the U.S. side.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump agreed last week at their summit in Washington to launch a framework to discuss bilateral trade in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“We will be discussing a wide range of issues, such as strengthening trade and investment ties as well as economic cooperation,” Aso told a news conference Tuesday.

A detailed agenda will be worked out after the relevant U.S. representatives are approved by Congress, Aso said.

On Monday, Abe said on TV that he believed Trump was “gradually” gaining an understanding of the significance of the 12-party TPP, although Trump has announced the United States will withdraw from it.

Abe also said Trump, who has been critical of the U.S. trade deficit with Japan, now knows that the “(current) structure is different from that of the trade friction in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Abe said he explained to Trump that exports of Japanese cars are decreasing compared with the ’80s and ’90s, and that more Japanese cars are produced in the U.S.