Obama touts controversial trade pact, in remarks alongside Japanese PM – Fox News

President Obama, in a joint White House appearance Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, touted a controversial trade pact that faces opposition from within his own party. 

The deal-in-progress, Obama said, “will help level the playing field.” 

He said both he and Abe are “deeply committed to getting this done.” 

The prime minister’s state visit aims to highlight the reconciliation between two nations once at war and to point the way toward expanded economic ties. The two countries are working toward a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that would further open vast Asian and Pacific rim markets to U.S. exports. 

Obama, though, faces stiff resistance to the trade deal from liberals and labor unions, political blocs that generally side with the president’s economic policies. 

Obama spoke after riots seized the streets of Baltimore late Monday, following the funeral for Freddie Gray, a young black man who died after suffering a spinal injury in police custody. The president has not yet addressed those riots. 

Obama earlier welcomed Abe with full pomp and ceremony on a bright, dewy morning at the White House, calling the state visit a “celebration of the ties of friendship” and praising the alliance the U.S. and Japan have built over time. 

Military honors and a gun salute greeted the Japanese leader in a South lawn arrival ceremony. A state dinner Tuesday evening with about 300 guests will cap Abe’s day at the White House. 

Setting the tone for the visit, Obama said: “The United States has renewed our leadership in the Asia Pacific.  Prime Minister Abe is leading Japan to a new role on the world stage.” 

Obama is pushing for closer trade ties with Japan, even as he fended off critics of liberalized international commerce within his own political party. 

Abe, speaking in Japanese, said he and Obama have been working to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance since they first met two years ago. 

“Now our bilateral relationship is more robust than ever,” he said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.