Trump exits Palm Beach but back Friday — for more golf, diplomacy

TRUMP IN PALM BEACH


President Donald Trump left Mar-a-Lago on Monday morning after his first winter White House weekend — but he’s expected back in a few days to play golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump and Abe are scheduled to meet in Washington on Friday, and Trump said in a Westwood One Sports Radio interview that the two leaders plan to come to Palm Beach.

“He’s coming to the White House and then he’d like to play golf, and we’re going to come down to Florida, Palm Beach, and we’re going to play golf,” Trump told Westwood One’s Jim Gray in an interview taped Sunday. “We’re going to have a round of golf, which is a great thing. That’s the one thing about golf — you get to know somebody better on a golf course than you will over lunch.”

A White House spokeswoman said Monday that Trump’s weekend schedule has not been finalized. A Federal Aviation Administration notice advises pilots to expect restrictions to accommodate “VIP movement” in the Palm Beach area from Friday through Sunday.

When he’s in Palm Beach, Trump typically plays golf at the Trump International Golf Club less than five miles from Mar-a-Lago in unincorporated West Palm Beach or at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter. The president visited Trump International in golf attire on Saturday and again Sunday.

Abe was the first foreign leader to meet face-to-face with Trump after the 2016 election, visiting Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 17. Abe presented Trump a $3,755 golf club during the visit, according to Golf Digest.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump often mentioned Japan along with Mexico and China as countries with whom the U.S. should take a tougher stance on trade deals. Trump also caused an uproar last March when he suggested Japan and South Korea might have to develop their own nuclear weapons programs to defend themselves against North Korea.

Trump later said his nuclear proliferation remarks should be viewed as a bargaining position.

“You always have to be prepared to walk” in a negotiation, Trump said in a campaign appearance in Racine, Wis. “And if we say to Japan, ‘We need help, you have to help us because we’re losing a fortune defending you,’ you have to be prepared to walk. You have to be prepared. That doesn’t mean that I want them to arm. But it’s possible because there’s a group of people that are very smart people that say maybe it’s a lot better for us if Japan pays their own way.”

Abe said he was “very encouraged” by a Friday visit to Tokyo by Defense Sec. James Mattis, according to the Associated Press.

After spending the weekend in Palm Beach, Trump’s motorcade roared out of Mar-a-Lago at 10:27 a.m. Monday for Palm Beach International Airport. The president flew to Tampa, where he visited the headquarters of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

Trump visited soldiers in a dining room at the facility and discussed New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady’s performance in Sunday’s historic Super Bowl comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.

“Tom Brady cemented his place. He did a good job,” Trump said.

In a speech to military personnel, Trump called for an “historic financial investment in the armed forces of the United States…We have your back, every hour, every day, now, and always.” He also reiterated his calls for NATO allies to “pay their fair share.”

Trump also met in Tampa with Florida Gov. Rick Scott. In his speech, Trump singled out Scott as “our great governor and a very good friend of mine and somebody who endorsed me. That makes him a better friend of mine.”



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