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Obama, Abe meet on security, economy at White House

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-02-23 06:41

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday held their meeting on security and economic issues at the White House.

Following their meeting, Obama told reporters at the Oval Office that the US-Japan alliance is the "central foundation for our regional security and so much of what we do in the Pacific region."

He said that the two leaders have had close consultations on "a wide range of security issues."

Obama particularly cited the two countries' concerns on the " provocative actions" taken by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), namely Pyongyang's recent nuclear test. He vowed to take "strong actions" in response.

On economic issues, Obama said that the two agreed the "number one priority" must be "increasing growth" and making sure people of both countries can prosper.

"So, we'll be talking about a host of issues that -- and steps that we can take in our respective countries to encourage the kind of trade, expanded commerce and robust growth that will lead to greater opportunity for both the United States and Japan," he said.

Washington wants Tokyo to join the negotiations for the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP), a region-wide free trade pact advocated by the United States.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the two countries confirmed that should Japan join the negotiations, "all goods would be subject to negotiation."

For his part, Abe said that "one big theme" of the meeting is to discuss "in which direction we would be strengthening the alliance between Japan and the United States."

"As a result of our discussion, we were able to share our understanding on not just concrete policy, but on direction to which our alliance is headed," he said through an interpreter, claiming that the "trust and the bond" in the US-Japan alliance is "back."

Abe noted that actions by Pyongyang cannot be tolerated. He vowed to deal with the DPRK "resolutely."

Regarding the territorial disputes on the Diaoyu Islands, Abe claimed that Japan has "always" being dealing with the issue in a "calm manner."

"We will continue to do so, and we have always done so," Abe said.

Abe began a visit to the United States on Thursday, the same day his controversial interview was published in the Washington Post.

In the interview, Abe said China has a "deeply ingrained" need to spar with Japan and other Asian neighbors over territory, because the ruling Communist Party of China uses the disputes to maintain strong domestic support.

China on Friday made strong representations to Japan over Abe's comments.

"China is strongly dissatisfied with the Japanese leader's comments that distort facts, attack and defame China and stir up confrontations between the two countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing on Friday.

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