Trump Kicks Off Asia Tour Playing Golf With Japan's Abe

Japanese premier says he had 'a lively conversation' with Trump, who is on a 12-day visit with North Korea at the top of the agenda

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe play golf at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, north of Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2017
HANDOUT/AFP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he and U.S. President Donald Trump had a lively conversation over golf.

Abe spoke to reporters after he and Trump had lunch and played golf Sunday. He said that the two leaders were able to talk frankly in a relaxed atmosphere while out on the course.

Abe said he and Trump were able to "carry out in depth discussion, at times touching on various difficult issues."

Trump, at the start of a 12-day Asian trip, is looking to present a united front with Japan against North Korea through meetings with Abe amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests. 

Their formal talks Monday are expected to focus on North Korea and other regional and bilateral issues.

Trump arrived in Japan on Sunday defending his tough rhetoric on North Korea, saying discussions on Pyongyang will figure prominently in talks with other Asian leaders as tensions rise over its missile and nuclear tests. Trump added that "it's expected" that he meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip at the sidelines of an economic summit in Vietnam, because "we want Putin's help on North Korea."

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Asia, Trump said a decision would be made soon on whether to add the reclusive state to a list of state sponsors of terrorism. 

His administration also planned to take a different approach to dealing with the issue after years of what he termed "total weakness." 

"We want to get it solved. It's a big problem for our country and the world, and we want to get it solved," he said. 

"And there's been 25 years of total weakness and so we're taking a very much different approach," Trump said, without giving any details. 

Trump will seek a united front with the leaders of Japan and South Korea against North Korea before visiting Beijing to make the case to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he should do more to rein in Pyongyang.