Trump pushes Abe to mediate in Iran, knowing Bolton will be remembered

US President Donald Trump last year called for the US and Iran to act as mediators between Washington and Tehran, despite his expectation that the Japanese leader would succeed in the mission, in his memoir published Tuesday by former US national security adviser John Bolton.

Bolton said Trump was using his ties with Abe to boost agricultural exports to Japan.

In anticipation of a brokerage dialogue between the two enemies, Abe left Iran in June 2019 and became the first sitting Japanese prime minister to do so since 1978. However, the mission failed and he was embarrassed after two tankers, one attacked by the Japanese-run company, during his stay near the Strait of Hormuz.

After the visit, Bolton recalled that he did not think he was a complete failure on the phone with Abe, saying that Trump did not expect the Japanese leader to succeed in the mission, and that the outcome was not a surprise.

"What was really on his mind, he said, was that he really appreciated the effort, but buying more American farm products in Japan was very important to him personally," Bolton said.

Trump, anxious to reduce the US trade deficit with Japan, insisted that he could do so "as soon" as Abe could. In September, the two leaders reached a bilateral trade deal designed to reduce tariffs on agricultural and industrial products.

Bolton was initially unaware that Trump had asked Abe to join the US and Iran, a request the Japanese chief had taken "seriously."

"It became clear to me that Trump is pushing Abe into a public role that will only end in failure," Bolton said in his book The Room When It Happened: A White House Memoir.

Bolton, 71, better known as a fanatic in Iran and North Korea, served as Trump's national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019, ousting the president because of conflicts over policy issues.

Bolton said in the book that Trump has "the best personal relationship between world leaders Abe" as "allies besides golf buddies". When Boris Johnson became British Prime Minister last year, he acknowledged that "it was a tie."

Trump liked to mention Abe's father, Shintaro Abe, who volunteered as a suicide pilot in World War II before becoming one of the country's top politicians. According to Bolton, Trump used this episode to show how tough Japanese people are in general, and how tough Abe is.

The name of the Japanese leader appears more than 100 times in the 578-page memoir, Bolton said, having known each other for 15 years.

Meanwhile, Japan's defense minister said on Tuesday that he was aware of Trump's demand for an annual payment of US $ 8 billion, quoting Bolton, adding that Tokyo had to pay more to keep its soldiers in the country.

Defense Minister Taro Kono said at a regular news conference that "negotiations on the cost of hosting (US forces) have not yet begun." "The Japanese government has not received any request from the US regarding this issue."

The current agreement expires in March 2021, with 54,000 US troops in Japan.

Asked if he thought the current cost of hosting the US military was reasonable, Kono said: "The Japan-US alliance is a public asset that contributes to the peace and stability of the region.

Cono said he could not comment specifically on what he had written because he had not read Bolton's book.

Bolton's alleged argument followed a foreign policy report last year in which Trump demanded his allies pay nearly $ 8 billion annually as part of efforts to increase their defense spending.

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