Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso met with Donald Trump on Tuesday in New York, at a time when leaders and senior officials of some countries have been building rapport with the former U.S. president ahead of the November election.

Aso, vice president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was a longtime ally of the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who built a strong personal relationship with Trump when the two led their respective countries.

Even after stepping down as prime minister in 2009, Aso, an 83-year-old House of Representatives member, remains one of the most influential politicians in the party, currently headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

"He's a highly respected man in Japan and beyond," Trump told reporters as he greeted Aso in the lobby of Trump Tower. "It's a great honor to have him."

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump meets with former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at Trump Tower in New York on April 23, 2024. (AP/Kyodo)

The former president and Aso "discussed the enduring importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance to both countries' physical and economic security," as well as challenges posed by China and North Korea, a readout issued by Trump's representatives after the meeting said.

Trump also praised Japan's increased defense spending, according to the readout.

Aso's visit to New York comes after Kishida's trip to the United States two weeks ago, during which he met Biden and showcased the robustness of the bilateral alliance.

Earlier this month, Trump, 77, met with former British Prime Minister David Cameron, who now serves as foreign secretary, as well as with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also met with Trump last month.

Tuesday's meeting took place after Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for the presidency, attended a session of his criminal trial related to an alleged cover-up of hush money paid on his behalf to a porn star ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

In Tokyo on Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters that "the government was not involved" in arranging the meeting between Aso and Trump, saying Aso's trip to the United States is in his capacity as a lawmaker.

Trump, whose presidency ran through January 2021, effectively clinched the Republican presidential nomination in March, and is set for a rematch against Democratic President Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, Trump earlier in the day questioned the recent rise in the value of the U.S. dollar against the Japanese yen to a 34-year high, saying it is "a total disaster for the United States."

If the dollar continues to appreciate against major currencies, U.S. manufacturers and other industries will be "unable to compete and will be forced to either lose lots of business" or build plants overseas, Trump said on Truth Social, a social media company he founded.

Trump said he put limits to avoid the dollar rising too high when he was in office but "Biden let it go."

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Ex-Japan PM Aso eyes meeting with Trump during trip to N.Y.