News World Trump claims Japanese first lady doesn’t speak English

Trump claims Japanese first lady doesn’t speak English

Akie Abe
Did Akie Abe pretend not to speak English to avoid talking to Donald Trump? Photo: AAP
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US President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that Japanese first lady Akie Abe “doesn’t speak English”, after an awkward encounter at a G20 Summit dinner.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr Trump recounted the meeting from earlier this month where he was seated next to the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe, who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English. Like, not ‘hello’,” he said.

However, a video of Ms Abe giving a speech at the Ford Foundation in New York in September 2014 showed she could speak English fluently.

Some publications speculated Mrs Abe may have pretended not to speak English to avoid talking to Mr Trump.

“So I’m sitting there. There was one interpreter for Japanese, ’cause otherwise it would have been even tougher,” Mr Trump said.

“But I enjoyed the evening with her, and she’s really a lovely woman, and I enjoyed — the whole thing was good.”

He said the evening was “hard” because the dinner went on for “probably an hour and 45 minutes”.

It’s not the first time the pair has dined together, after they visited the US soon after Mr Trump’s inauguration.

Mr Trump was joined by wife Melania Trump and both Mr and Ms Abe in a restaurant in Palm Beach on February 10.

Trump’s apparent threat to Robert Mueller

In the same Times interview, Mr Trump also appeared to threaten special counsel Robert Mueller, suggesting he had damaging information on the former FBI director.

Mr Trump said the choice of Mr Mueller to head the special investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the Trump presidential campaign, was a conflict of interest because Mr Trump had interviewed him to serve as the replacement FBI director.

“There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said but I will at some point,” Mr Trump said in what many have interpreted as a veiled threat.

Mr Trump also addressed the previously undisclosed conversation he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner at the G20 summit in Germany.

Mr Trump said the pair spoke for about 15 minutes and said the conversation was “pleasantries more than anything else”, though he said he and Mr Putin also discussed adoption.

Russia had banned Americans from adopting Russian children in response to a 2012 law that allowed the US to impose sanctions on Russians deemed human-rights violators.

Mr Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, says he discussed the same topic with a Russian lawyer at a meeting in June 2016 that has drawn intense scrutiny and has resulted in the younger Trump being called to give evidence in the inquiry.

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