Abe set for White House visit

(CNN)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Washington Friday for his third trip to the White House, a two-day visit aimed at fostering bonds with President Donald Trump and coordinating on an array of global issues.

During the official working visit, Trump and Abe will hold a series of bilateral meetings, which will include national security and foreign policy advisers, as well as key economic and trade officials, a senior administration official briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity said Thursday.
On Friday evening, Trump and Abe will have a private dinner alongside first lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, first lady of Japan, which, the official noted "coincides with the first lady's birthday." Melania Trump turns 49 on Friday and while they will have a celebratory dinner, there is no formal party in the works for the first lady.
The purpose of the trip, per the senior official, is "deepening our global partnership with Japan," as well as building on "our alliance, our partnership and the President's personal friendship with Prime Minister Abe."
    The two leaders have been in close contact, holding "dozens of phone calls or meetings," since Trump took office more than two years ago. Abe has met with Trump at the White House twice -- weeks after Trump's inauguration in February 2017 and a second time last June -- and he has traveled to the President's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, twice, as well. The leaders developed a bond and have spent time on golf courses in both the US and Japan.
    On Saturday, while the President and Prime Minister are rumored to be planning a golf outing, the first lady and Akie Abe are expected to participate in events outside the White House.
    The Japanese Prime Minister has resolved to become Trump's closest foreign friend, gifting him with gold-handled golf clubs and custom ball caps embroidered with the phrase "Donald and Abe: Make Alliance Even Greater" in a bid to cultivate the US leader during his November 2017 trip to Tokyo. In Trump's telling, Abe even nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize following his diplomatic gambit with North Korea, an effort that Abe has privately viewed skeptically.
    During the visit, Trump and Abe will "exchange views on recent developments with North Korea" and "coordinate future actions," according to the senior official, who added that those future actions "would include consultations" with South Korea that will be "aimed at achieving the final, fully-verified denuclearization of North Korea."
    They will also discuss opportunities for cooperation on energy, digital connectivity, and infrastructure investment, as well as how the countries "can enhance trade and investment ties," the official stressing that a strong relationship between the US and Japan is "key for global peace, stability, and prosperity."
      Trump and Abe will also likely discuss priorities for the forthcoming G20 meeting, which will be in Osaka in late June, as well as the President and first lady's trip to Japan in late May.
      During the two-day visit, Abe is expected to formally invite the Trumps to be the first foreign dignitaries to meet the new emperor Naruhito, after he ascends to the Chrysanthemum throne May 1. Abe, like many of his foreign counterparts, hopes the visits can keep his country in Trump's good graces.