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The Kantei
Tokyo, Japan

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  (As interpreted.)  Welcome back, Vice President Pence.  I welcome your third visit to Japan.

Your visit this time is taking place right before the East Asia Summit as well as the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, and it is a testament to the strong bond under the Japan-U.S. alliance.

So today I will look forward to having a thorough, as well as candid, discussion on regional issues, including North Korea, the economy, and other various challenges so as to reaffirm our close coordination between Japan and the United States.

And I am fully aware of your extremely busy schedule, but I do appreciate that you took time to visit Japan prior to the important planned meetings, and I wholeheartedly welcome upon your return to Japan.

So we are fortunate to have your tremendous efforts for our alliance, and also there is the friendship between myself and President Trump.  And also, for the past two years, both sides have been making every effort to reinforce this alliance.  So I am truly confident that the relationship of Japan and the United States has become more robust than ever.

So as I said earlier, I look forward to having a candid discussion with you today.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Well, thank you, Prime Minister Abe.  It is a great honor for me to be here on my third visit to Japan.  And I bring greetings and the warmest regards from your friend, President Donald Trump.

The Japan-U.S. alliance is historically the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.  And when the President directed me to represent him at the ASEAN and APEC conference, we knew that coming to Japan first was the right step.  And I’m grateful for your hospitality and time.

The people of the United States feel a warm connection to the people of Japan, and it is well represented in the warm friendship that’s been forged, Mr. Prime Minister, between you and President Trump.  It comes from decades of cooperation and investment in our security and prosperity, but it also comes from our shared values.

And the United States shares Japan’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.  And I look forward to carrying our commitment and being with you at the upcoming conference in Singapore and Papua Guinea.

In the meantime, I look forward to our candid conversation today to update on the discussions toward a bilateral trade agreement that you and President Trump agreed to initiate in your meeting in New York, in September.

And I also look forward to discussions about how we can continue to work closely on advancing the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  And we are grateful, Mr. Prime Minister, for your strong and steadfast leadership working with the United States and our partners in South Korea, and nations around the world, to make the progress that we have made toward achieving that historic aim.

So on behalf of President Trump and my little family, thank you again for your friendship, for your warm hospitality, and I look very much forward to our discussion.