Trump takes golf buddy Abe for rematch

The relationship between Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe has been hailed as 'unprecedented' by Japanese and US officials (AFP Photo/Handout) (JAPAN'S CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE VIA JIJI PRESS/AFP)

Washington (AFP) - He played with Tiger Woods earlier this year, but on the golf course Saturday US President Donald Trump faced an easier -- and more familiar -- opponent: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

With Abe in Washington as talks between the two allies to carve out a trade deal continue, the golf-mad pair set off in the morning for the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, around 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the White House.

The two leaders struck up something of a "bromance" during Trump's visit in November 2017 as they traded fist-bumps and tucked into burgers at a golf club outside Tokyo.

And Japan, which closely aligns its foreign policy with the United States, has publicly backed Trump's drive to make peace with North Korea -- although it has been cautious on chances for success.

Trump will become the first foreign leader to greet the new emperor of Japan, Naruhito, when he travels there on May 25 to 28.