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Japanese PM Says He Has 'Great Confidence' in Donald Trump

  • VOA News

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right center, speaks to members of the press after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in New York, Nov. 17, 2016.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right center, speaks to members of the press after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in New York, Nov. 17, 2016.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls U.S. President-elect Donald Trump a leader in whom he can have "great confidence."

Abe was the first world leader to meet with Trump after he won the U.S. presidential election. The two met Thursday at Trump Tower in New York.

Abe called his talks with the sometimes sharp-tongued Trump "really cordial."

"I do believe that without confidence between the two nations, the alliance would never function in the future, and as the outcome of today's discussion, I am convinced Mr. Trump is a leader in whom I can have great confidence," the Japanese official said.

Abe said he and Trump talked about basic issues, but he gave no details. Trump did not comment on the meeting.

FILE - An employee of a foreign exchange trading company looks at monitors showing U.S. President elect Donald Trump speaking on TV news in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 9, 2016.

FILE - An employee of a foreign exchange trading company looks at monitors showing U.S. President elect Donald Trump speaking on TV news in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 9, 2016.

During his campaign, Trump questioned several bedrocks of the U.S.-Japanese relationship, suggesting that the U.S. was doing too much to provide defense to Japan. He floated the idea of allowing Japan and others in the region nuclear weapons and forcing higher payments to support the deployment of U.S. forces in those countries.

The U.S. has about 53,000 military personnel based in Japan, along with 43,000 dependent family members and 5,000 Defense Department civilian employees.

Supporters of the defense alliance argue that beyond the benefits to Japan, there are strategic gains for the U.S. by having its forces deployed in that part of the world.

Trump has also threatened to tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement — a deal that Japan supports.

FILE - Former Secretary of State and former National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger speaks in Austin, Texas, April 26, 2016.

FILE - Former Secretary of State and former National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger speaks in Austin, Texas, April 26, 2016.

Kissinger, Haley meetings

Trump spent most of Thursday with his transition team, making plans for his new administration, as well as listening to advice from such veteran diplomats as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Trump said he has tremendous respect for Kissinger, and said they talked about such major issues as China, Russia and Iran.

FILE - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivers the State of the State in the House chambers at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, Jan. 20, 2016.

FILE - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivers the State of the State in the House chambers at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, Jan. 20, 2016.

He also met with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a possible choice for secretary of state.

A senior Trump official said retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn had been offered the job of national security adviser, but a formal announcement has not yet been made. Flynn is the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The transition team also announced that Trump would meet Saturday with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor was a vocal critic of Trump and held a press conference earlier this year, where he said "dishonesty is Trump's hallmark."

The two were to discuss the transition operations, as well as the possibility that Romney was being considered as a candidate for secretary of state.

FILE - Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, March 3, 2016.

FILE - Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, March 3, 2016.

Timing uncertain

Trump has been focusing on his national security appointments this week, while also considering his choices for other Cabinet positions. However, his decisions on whom to name did not appear imminent.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said some appointments could be named before the Thanksgiving holiday on November 24, but maybe not.

"It's Donald Trump and Donald Trump alone who makes the ultimate decisions," she told one television interviewer.

The Trump transition team also sent its first sets of people to various government agencies to get up to speed on their operations.

The transition team contacted the Pentagon on Thursday to arrange initial briefings, which were expected to take place Friday. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said his department will do what it can to help ensure a seamless transition.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said teams were sent to the State and Justice departments, and National Security Council.

Carla Babb at the Pentagon contributed to this report.

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