Trump Headed to 5 Asian Countries Next Month
U.S. President Donald Trump is heading to five Asian countries early next month, looking to ramp up pressure against North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, but also promote American economic interests in the region.
The White House said Monday that Trump’s trip from November 3 to 14 will include visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines and face-to-face talks with the heads of state at each stop, as well as a layover in the westernmost U.S. state, Hawaii, at the outset of the trip. The trip includes a mix of official gatherings at international meetings as well as ceremonial and cultural events.
Trump has marshaled international support at the United Nations for economic sanctions against North Korea in an effort to deprive Pyongyang of export money to fund its nuclear weapons program. But North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests, certain to be a focal point of Trump’s talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
South Korean media have speculated that Trump could visit the demilitarized zone, the heavily armed narrow strip of land that separates South and North Korea that provides a vantage point looking into the reclusive communist nation, but the White House statement made no mention of such a stop.
Later, Trump told reporters that all the details of his trip are not set, but that “we’ll take a look” at visiting the demilitarized zone, as Vice President Mike Pence did in April.
The White House said Trump would have November 7 talks with Moon, who has advocated closer ties with Pyongyang, and speak at the National Assembly. The White House said Trump “will celebrate the enduring alliance and friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and call on the international community to join together in maximizing pressure on North Korea.”
Trump starts his trip with a visit to the Pacific island state of Hawaii, where the White House said he would get a military briefing from the U.S. Pacific Command and also visit Pearl Harbor, the naval base Japan bombed in a surprise attack in 1941 that prompted the U.S. to quickly enter World War II.
In Japan November 5, Trump is meeting with American and Japanese service members and holding talks with Abe, who is also hosting him for a meeting with families of Japanese nationals who have been abducted by the North Korean regime.
After the visit to South Korea, Trump heads to Beijing for his meeting with Xi, whom he has often praised for his attempts to curb North Korea’s weapons development, as well as commercial and cultural events.
Trump’s fourth Asian stop is in Danang, Vietnam, on November 10, where he is meeting with regional leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and delivering a speech. The White House said Trump will lay out “the United States’ vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and underscore the important role the region plays in advancing America’s economic prosperity.”
But Trump could face sharp questions about why he pulled the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal that was years in the making and promoted by former president Barack Obama as beneficial for businesses, workers and consumers. Trump has said he favors one-on-one trade deals with other countries.
After the economic summit, Trump heads to Hanoi for talks November 11 with President Tran Dai Quang and other senior Vietnamese leaders.
The next day Trump heads to Manila for a dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and another celebration November 13 commemorating the 40th anniversary of U.S. involvement with ASEAN. He is also holding talks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Some U.S. officials and world leaders have condemned Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drug dealers in the Philippines, where the government has sanctioned gunning down suspects in the streets.
But Trump, in an April phone call with Duterte, praised him for the “unbelievable job on the drug problem” he had launched in the island nation.