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Trump, Japan’s Abe work on strengthening ties — but also change them after awkward coincidence

PALM BEACH, Fla. — What happens when you show up for a high-stakes geopolitical summit half a world away — and your host is wearing the same outfit?

If you’re Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and your host is President Trump, you do what any respectable fashionista would do: You make a quick change to alleviate the awkwardness.

That’s what Abe, who has worked hard to ingratiate himself with Trump, did on Tuesday after arriving at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and being greeted by the U.S. president in an identical blue-and-white striped necktie. Here’s a photo from Mandel Ngan of Agence France-Presse:

As The Washington Post has written, Abe has been the world’s most eager suitor of Trump, becoming the first foreign leader to visit him after the 2016 election and meeting with him more often than any other. In November, when Trump visited Tokyo, that Trump seemed to get a kick out of asserting a sort of passive-aggressive dominance over Abe:

Trump has let up on the power grip since then, but in more subtle ways he has continued to show who is the alpha — a price Abe appears willing to pay in his strategic servitude to keep Trump supporting the postwar security alliance that the president had openly questioned in his election campaign.

So it was perhaps no surprise that it was left to Abe to change his accessory.

As the two men, accompanied by their wives, strolled along the finely manicured lawn at the president’s Florida resort, the Japanese leader had undergone a subtle makeover. Abe was wearing the same royal blue suit — but the stripes on his tie had magically become thinner and were angled in the other direction. A closer look revealed it was, in fact, a different tie, as this photo by Ngan showed:

A quick photo search of Google images revealed that Abe wears these two ties quite often. In any case, if the photo-ready double-daters thought their embarrassing moments were over, they were wrong. As Trump stopped to make brief remarks to a reporter, confusion ensued when the president appeared to suggest, in response to a shouted question, that he had spoken directly with North Korea’s non-tie-wearing dictator, Kim Jong Un. White House aides later clarified that Trump did not, in fact, have talks with Kim. The contacts were made by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state.

Trump could take solace in the fact that none of the reporters asked the two world leaders who they were wearing.

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