Donald Trump

Trump’s Asian trip through China, Japan, and other countries to be dominated by North Korea crisis

Trump to visit Beijing from November 8 for talks with President Xi Jinping as White House releases details of his Asian trip

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 1:27am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 2:41am

US President Donald Trump will meet several key Asian leaders next month, including controversial Philippines strongman Rodrigo Duterte, on a tour otherwise dominated by efforts to isolate North Korea.

Trump’s first Asian tour as president will take him to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, where he will attend the summit of Asean, the southeast Asian bloc.

The United States has important trade ties in the region, but his economic agenda will be overshadowed by the major foreign policy crisis of his presidency so far: the North Korean stand-off.

“The president’s travel will underscore his commitment to long-standing United States alliances and partnerships, and reaffirm United States leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the White House said.

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Trump will be in Beijing for two days beginning November 8 for key “bilateral, commercial, and cultural events, including meetings with President Xi Jinping,” the White House said.

Last month, Trump warned at the United Nations that he is prepared to “totally destroy” the Pyongyang regime if it does not give up its quest for a nuclear-armed intercontinental missile.

Trump will meet with Duterte, who has come under fire for human rights abuses.

“The President’s travel will underscore his commitment to long-standing United States alliances and partnerships, and reaffirm United States leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Duterte is hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) conference in Manila. Trump has spoken with Duterte by telephone, and has not directly denounced Duterte’s actions. In May, Trump and Duterte had a “friendly discussion” that included an invitation for Duterte to visit the White House, the White House said at the time.

The invitation prompted criticism and spurred questions about whether the United States should extend an invitation to a leader accused of human rights abuses.

Then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, interviewed on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said such outreach to Southeast Asian nations is important in countering the North Korean threat.

The Duterte meeting was not announced when the White House first laid out Trump’s itinerary for his visit to China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. The trip was announced in September amid escalating tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

The November 3-14 trip will be Trump’s first to the region as president. The White House provided a more detailed schedule of his events on Monday.

Trump will stop in Hawaii on his way to Asia on November 3, and tour the USS Arizona memorial to the Pearl Harbor attack, the White House said.

In Japan on November 5-6, Trump will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the White House said. Trump will also visit with American service members stationed in Japan, as well as Japanese service members and families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.

In South Korea on November 7, Trump will meet with President Moon Jae-in and address the National Assembly, “where he 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 maximising pressure on North Korea,” the White House said. He will also visit with American service members stationed in South Korea, and with South Korean service members.

Trump will travel to Danang, Vietnam, on November 10 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit. He is set to deliver a speech at the APEC CEO Summit that the White House said “will present 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.”

The session is also likely to focus on Trump’s decision to cancel the Obama administration’s proposed Asian trade pact as well as the rising threat from North Korea.

In Hanoi on November 11, Trump will meet with President Tran Dai Quang and other senior Vietnamese leaders. In Manila, on November 12-13, Trump will participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations annual meeting and meet with Duterte and other leaders.