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US President Barack Obama has met with Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House for a round of talks designed to reaffirm their alliance.

The two leaders pledged to cooperate to promote stability and economic growth and stand together to protect common interests.

Obama has described the US-Japanese alliance as “the central foundation” to US activities and security in the Pacific region. Relations had been strained under the previous Japanese Democratic Party (DPJ) administration over the relocation of a US military base in Okinawa.

Shinzo Abe’s visit is widely seen as an effort to shore up ties as Japan’s long-running conflict with China continues over islands in the East China Sea. He has pressed for the US to take a hardline with Beijing over the dispute and with North Korea over their nuclear capabilities.

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