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Shinzo Abe, Donald Trump prepare to hold summit in Washington

Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said the government was making preparations for a meeting between him and new US President Donald Trump early next month, the media reported.

In an address to the lower house of Parliament, Abe said the two countries were finalising preparations to hold the meeting as soon as possible, Efe news reported.

The two heads of government are expected to discuss the withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and will also discuss the bilateral security alliance, officials told Japanese news agency Kyodo.

This will be the first official meeting between Abe and Trump since the latter assumed office on January 20, although the two met informally in New York in November, shortly after the New York mogul won the November 8 presidential elections.

Following the US exit from the TPP, one of the first executive orders Trump signed to fulfill his electoral promise, the new US president has said he will focus on bilateral trade agreements.

Abe stressed on his intention of trying to convince Trump of the advantages of the TPP but also expressed his willingness to negotiate bilateral economic agreements with Washington in the same way Japan did with Australia, another TPP signatory country.

At a press conference on Thursday, Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said the US-Japan security alliance is crucial for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

This matter will also be top of the agenda for the new US Defence Secretary James Mattis, during his visit to Japan next week.

Mattis is scheduled to meet Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada on February 3 and 4, his first overseas trip after being appointed by Trump.

IANS