WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Saturday embarked on an eleven day trip to Asia, during which he will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Trump’s tour will be the longest tour of Asia by a US president in 25 years. The last time a US president made such a marathon trip to Asia was when George HW Bush visited the region in late 1991 and early 1992.
President Trump flew first to the US state of Hawaii where he visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor – the scene of the 1941 Japanese attack that drew the US into World War Two. From Hawaii, he and First Lady Melania Trump will head to Japan and then on to South Korea before arriving in China. He will conclude his trip with a visit to Vietnam and Philippine.
The trip comes at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea over its nuclear programme and missile tests. The president has broken precedent by clearly and repeatedly threatening to carry out a first strike against North Korea. On the eve of his Sunday departure, he did it again.
“We have one problem. That’s called North Korea,” Trump told Fox News. “I must tell you North Korea’s a thing that I think we will solve and if we don’t solve it, it’s not going to be very pleasant for them. It’s not going to be very pleasant for anybody.”
The White House hopes the trip could offer a chance at a reset as a tumultuous first year in office winds down. Trump’s advisers see it as an opportunity for the president to forcefully assert U.S. pledges to its allies and deliver a fierce warning directly to North Korea’s Kim, whom he has belittled as “little Rocket Man.”