Circa (Washington) -- It appears the famous Trump-Abe friendship has been tested, and differing policies on North Korea is the culprit.
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are well known for their bromance. The two are reportedly quite close, and see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they have recently had divergent views on North Korea.
Trump has expressed his support for upcoming talks between North and South Korean leaders. He is even planning to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un himself in the near future.
"Hopefully that meeting will be a great success and we're looking forward to it," said Trump in a press conference with Abe at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday. "It would be a tremendous thing for North Korea and a tremendous thing for the world. So we will be doing everything possible to make it a worldwide success not just for the, United States or South Korea or North Korea or Japan, but for the entire world."
"Just because North Korea is responding to dialogue, there should be no reward," said Abe. "Maximum pressure should be maintained and actual implementation of concrete actions toward de-nuclearization will be demanded."
The two-day Mar-a-Lago summit was a crucial opportunity for Abe to reaffirm the U.S. commitment of applying pressure to the Kim regime, according to former CIA deputy Korea division chief Brue Klingner.
"Up until recently the two countries had been in lock-step on the need for greater pressure with no engagement," said Klingner, who is now a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, in an interview with Circa. "And then suddenly Trump reversed course and there was Abe standing by himself. He feels he needs to get back in the game."
Abe may have done just that with the summit. North and South Korean leaders are scheduled to start a monumental summit next week, which Trump hopes will be a productive precursor to his own meeting with the Kim regime. which could follow shortly thereafter. The summit was the ideal opportunity to make sure any future agreement protects Japanese interests, according to Klingner.
"Prime Minister Abe is nervous that we may cut and run on a deal that protects our homeland, but not the Japanese homeland," he noted.
Whether or not Abe actually had any influence on Trump is unclear, but the President did note in a tweet that the meeting was a resounding success. He also reiterated that the U.S. will continue its policy of applying maximum pressure to the regime, despite Trump's desire for successful talks in the future.
"Our discussions today reaffirmed the close cooperation between the United States and Japan on the issue of North Korea and our common defense," said Trump. "We will not repeat the mistakes of previous administrations. Our campaign of maximum pressure will continue until North Korea de-nuclearizes."
For Abe, that may be enough.