WASHINGTON - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Washington on Thursday for talks with US President Donald Trump aimed at setting a new course for the crucial bilateral relationship, amid strains over trade and defense.
Abe and his wife Akie descended the stairs of their jet at Joint Base Andrews just outside the US capital, their overcoats blowing in the fierce winter wind.
On Friday, the Japanese prime minister will meet with business leaders and place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery before heading to the White House for his noon (1700 GMT) meeting with Trump.
The pair will hold a joint news conference about an hour later.
In the late afternoon, they will head to Florida, where Trump will host Abe at his luxury Mar-a-Lago golf club and estate - now dubbed the "Winter White House." The pair will hit the golf course on Saturday.
"That's the one thing about golf - you get to know somebody better on a golf course than you will over lunch," Trump recently told a radio interviewer.
Abe is looking to form a personal bond with the mercurial property mogul-turned president, amid strains between Washington and Tokyo over Trump's destruction of a trans-Pacific trade deal and his apparent willingness to put long-standing defense commitments into question.
Abe is expected to dangle proposals to create hundreds of thousands of US jobs, via high-speed rail projects and private cash from Japanese companies.
The quid pro quo would be a commitment to shared defense and avoiding a race-to-the-bottom trade war.
"I want to hold a summit that can send a message saying the Japan-US alliance will strengthen further with President Trump," Abe told reporters at the airport in Tokyo before departure.
"We will develop the two countries' economies even more based on free and fair rules," Abe added, stressing he wants to "confirm that" with Trump at the meeting.