World

Trump and Abe Take a Swing at Golf Diplomacy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe attend dinner with US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida US, February 10, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe attend dinner with US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida US, February 10, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Jupiter: President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hit the links on Saturday, as the two leaders looked to forge a bond over a round of golf diplomacy.

South African four-time majors champion Ernie Els joined Trump and Abe for a round at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, Trump said in a tweet on Saturday evening.

Reporters were not allowed on the course to watch the president and prime minister while they golfed.

After four hours at the club, Trump tweeted a picture of himself and Abe on the golf course.

“Having a great time hosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the US,” Trump said in the tweet.

The 47-year-old Els, whose primary residence is in south Florida, followed in the footsteps of former US world number one Tiger Woods, who played golf with Trump in December.

The entrance area of Trump National Golf club, where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump play golf, is seen in Jupiter, Florida, US, February 11, 2017. Credit: Reuters

The entrance area of Trump National Golf club, where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump play golf, is seen in Jupiter, Florida, US, February 11, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Shortly after the golf round, Trump and Abe left the club to head to a private lunch.

Between tweets about his visit with the Japanese prime minister and golfing with Abe and Els, Trump sent out a tweet again castigating the media over their treatment of his daughter Ivanka Trump.

“I am so proud of my daughter Ivanka. To be abused and treated so badly by the media, and to still hold her head so high, is truly wonderful!” he wrote.

Trump earlier this week blasted department store operator Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing line, because of what the company said were poor sales.

US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania (L) wave with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R) and his wife Akie Abe while boarding Air Force One as they depart for Palm Beach, Florida, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US, February 10, 2017. Credit: Reuters

US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania (L) wave with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R) and his wife Akie Abe while boarding Air Force One as they depart for Palm Beach, Florida, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US, February 10, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Abe traveled to Florida on the Air Force One with the new US president after a more formal meeting at the White House on Friday. The weekend excursion is Trump‘s first use of his Mar-a-Lago resort to entertain an international leader.

Washington and Tokyo have said that the weekend trip is a sign of the importance that both leaders place on the US-Japan relationship.

Abe, in particular, sought to ease concerns in Japan about the fate of the decades-long alliance under Trump, who had raised concerns about US military spending in Japan during the rancorous 2016 presidential election campaign.

At a news conference on Friday, Trump and Abe focused on areas of common ground, with Trump setting aside campaign pledges to force Tokyo to pay more for US defense aid and Abe promising to help the US to create jobs.

On Friday night, Trump and Abe ate dinner with their wives on an outdoor patio at Mar-a-Lago. The couples were joined by Robert Kraft, owner of the National Football League’s New England Patriots, which won the Super Bowl last Sunday.

Trump and Abe are set to meet again for dinner on Saturday in the evening, along with some members of the Japanese delegation. The two leaders are scheduled to depart from Florida on Sunday.

(Reuters)