Trump and new Japan PM Suga discuss 'free and open Indo-Pacific': US

US President on Sunday spoke to 's new prime minister, , to congratulate him on taking office and to discuss a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region, which is increasingly dominated by China.

"The two leaders discussed the importance of pursuing our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, continuing to strengthen the United States-Japan Alliance, and working together to strengthen the global economy," the White House said in a statement.

China is locked in disputes with neighbors including Japan and Vietnam over islands in the South China Sea.

Beijing's expanding military presence in the region has worried several of its neighbors, and Washington has vowed to stand up against its territorial claims.

Japan's parliament elected Suga, 71, as the country's first new leader in nearly eight years on Wednesday.

He said he would seek continued strong ties with Washington and stable relations with China and Russia.

He also pledged to continue the work of former leader Shinzo Abe, whose signature "Abenomics" program involved vast government spending and monetary easing, and attempts to cut red tape.

After the phone conversation Suga told reporters that he informed Trump that the alliance with Washington is the "cornerstone of peace and stability in the region," Japan's Kyodo News reported.

In their 25-minute talk, Trump and Suga also talked about the situation in North Korea. The Japanese leader asked for US support to push for the return of Japanese nationals kidnapped by the North Koreans in the 1970s and 80s, Kyodo reported.

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