US president Donald Trump will travel to Asia in November for the first time since becoming president, stopping in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines on a trip expected to be dominated by the North Korea nuclear threat.
Trump will travel Nov 3-14 with his wife Melania. His visit will include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations conclave in the Philippines.
Trump’s attendance at the Manila summit had been in doubt until recent days, with officials saying he was reluctant to show support for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been responsible for a number of anti-American outbursts.
A US official said Asian leaders who met Trump at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week helped persuade him to attend in unity with key Asian allies, reports Reuters.
An Asian diplomat welcomed Trump’s decision to visit Manila “because that reassures the region that Asia policy is not just about North Korea, it’s about Southeast Asia as well.”
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Duterte was looking forward to meeting Trump, adding that the relationship between the two countries was so resilient that ties would always recover, regardless of disagreements.
Trump’s visit to China will reciprocate a trip to the United States made in April by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump has applied heavy pressure on China to rein in North Korea. While his efforts have had limited success thus far, he went out of his way to thank Xi on Tuesday for his efforts.
“I applaud China for breaking off all banking relationships with North Korea - something that people would have thought unthinkable even two months ago. I want to thank President Xi,” Trump said at a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
At the same time, Trump’s national security team is conducting a broad review of US strategy towards China in search of ways to counter Chinese trade practices and open up market access, a senior administration official said.
The United States also considers Chinese entities behind the theft of intellectual property and cyber attacks and wants to find ways to address these concerns, the official said.
There was no definite timetable for concluding the review.
“We’re looking at all of it,” the official said.