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14 Feb, 2017 00:18

‘Trump is a good listener’, should talk with Putin to resolve global issues, says Japan’s Abe

‘Trump is a good listener’, should talk with Putin to resolve global issues, says Japan’s Abe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed the importance of dialogue between Russia and the US in resolving global challenges such as Syria, Iran, and Ukraine during his talks with US President Donald Trump.

In an interview with the NHK news channel after his return to Japan on Monday, the PM said Trump is a leader who is open to hearing new ideas.

“Surprisingly, President Trump is a good listener. He is open to turning his ears to others, and he is friendly and open,” Abe told NHK, as cited by the Associated Press. “I was able to discuss frankly where Japan is headed to.”

But bilateral relations were not the only thing Trump discussed with Abe, who arrived in the US on Thursday.

“We addressed various issues, including the [anti-Russian] sanctions,” he continued. “At the same time, [we discussed] the Syrian issue, the Iranian issue and the Ukrainian issue.”

“These issues cannot be resolved if President Putin and President Trump do not maintain direct dialogue, can they?”

Donald Trump is widely seen as taking a less antagonist approach to Russia than his predecessor, Barack Obama, having promised to seek better relations with Moscow during his election campaign. However, in January, the President told reporters that it was still “very early” to talk about an easing of the sanctions.

Japan joined the US and the rest of the G7 countries in March 2014 in imposing sanctions on Russia following the Crimean referendum in which people voted to join the Russian Federation in the wake of the coup in Kiev that triggered a civil war in the east of the country.

Japan also has territorial claims over Russia’s Kuril Islands acquired by the Soviet Union after World War II under the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, which Tokyo never accepted. This unresolved question has kept the two nations from signing a formal peace treaty, leaving them technically in a state of ceasefire for the 70 years since the end of WWII.

“These islands, instead of a bone of contention between Russia and Japan, can, on the contrary, become something uniting,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in December during his visit to Japan for talks that revolved around setting up joint economic activities in the islands’ economic zone. 

During the talks with Trump, Abe outlined Japan’s plans and secured the US leader’s “understanding” of the importance of dialogue to resolve the territorial dispute with Russia.

Trump and Abe also spoke about their joint concerns over North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

“The Trump administration will pursue a diplomatic resolution, but will put all [military] options on the table in the meantime,” Abe told reporters in the wake of Pyongyang’s latest missile test on Sunday, which further heightened tensions in the region.

President Trump and President Putin are scheduled to meet in person at the Hamburg G20 summit in July, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, noting there's no specific arrangement for a meeting to take place earlier.