CNN.com – The visit to Washington Friday by Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe will be the second time President Donald Trump has sat down with the Japanese leader. The first was in November at Trump Tower, just 10 days after Trump’s win and before he took the oath of office.
But it will be a first for Abe’s wife, Akie, and first lady Melania Trump, who would traditionally play hostess to the spouse of the foreign leader, though the White House has yet to confirm if this will be the case.
Late Thursday night, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Melania Trump would welcome the Abes to Washington, but did not elaborate.
The task of entertaining the wife or husband of a dignitary falls to the first lady, often in the form of visiting schools, or cultural monuments or having a luncheon or other small social event.
For Melania Trump, should she be Akie Abe’s escort for the day in Washington, this will be the first time since the inauguration that her role as first lady will be on public display.
She could choose to take a cue from her predecessor, Michelle Obama, who was a frequent partner to the wives’ of leaders her husband was busy meeting with in the West Wing.
Here she is last October, with then-Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s wife, Agnese Landini — one of the final visits of a foreign leader to the Obama White House.
What Michelle Obama did not ever have was a private beachfront club at her disposal, whereas Melania Trump has that in Mar-a-Lago. Laura Bush didn’t have Mar-a-Lago, but she did have a ranch in Crawford, Texas.
And if Melania Trump entertains Akie Abe in Florida over the weekend — the Abes are scheduled Friday afternoon to fly down to Mar-a-Lago as guests of the President — she could to look to Bush, who in 2004 hosted then-Mexico President Vicente Fox and his wife, Marta Sahagun de Fox. The first couple of Mexico made a visit to the Bush family’s ranch, where they went hiking.
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