President Trump offered high praise for outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who resigned Friday amid health concerns.
“I want to pay my highest respect to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe … a great friend of mine,” Trump said during an impromptu conversation on Air Force One Reuters reported. “I just feel very badly about it.”
Trump has had warm relations with Abe since the beginning of his presidency. The pair famously met in Trump Tower just days after his 2016 election upset. Photos of the moment, featuring his daughter and now senior presidential advisor Ivanka Trump caused a minor stir when they landed on the internet at the time.
The president said he planned to personally call the former leader, which Japanese officials told the news agency would take place on Monday.
Abe, 65, is Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister. He said his decision to resign was due to a relapse of ulcerative colitis, an often debilitating disease for which there is no known cure.