Trump heading to Asia for summits: White House

US President Donald Trump speaks during an announcement on immigration reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, US on Aug 2, 2017.
US President Donald Trump speaks during an announcement on immigration reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, US on Aug 2, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov 3 to 14 to attend regional summits and discuss trade and the North Korean nuclear threat, the White House has announced.

"The President's engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," the White House said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Trump will also focus on trade in the region, attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam as well as the Asean summit in the Philippines.

"President Trump will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America's prosperity and security," the White House said.

"He will also emphasise the importance of fair and reciprocal economic ties with America's trade partners."

Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama was the first US president to regularly attend the Asean summit, donning flamboyant local shirts and posing, arms linked, for photos with leaders as part of his much-vaunted "pivot to Asia".

Mr Trump, however, has taken a wrecking ball to much of Mr Obama's legacy, including knocking away a key pillar of the pivot by scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that had been embraced by many Asean partners.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who visited the Philippines and met President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year, was among those who urged Mr Trump to attend the summit.

"I think it's very important that the President travel to the region for the summit," he said on Thursday. "Now, more than ever, the United States needs to show its leadership, not just in rhetoric, but in action, in visible ways."

During a visit to Asean's Jakarta headquarters in April, US Vice-President Mike Pence had promised allies - anxious about waning US engagement in the region - that Mr Trump would attend the bloc's summit in Manila this November. But a range of issues had briefly thrown those plans up in the air.

The trip will be Mr Trump's fourth international trip as President.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Trump heading to Asia for summits'. Print Edition | Subscribe