President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, puts on a bomber jacket that he received from US forces in Tokyo on Sunday, November 5.
President Donald Trump is on a high-stakes trip that will take him through five Asian nations — Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines — over 13 days. It is his longest foreign trip as President, and it is the longest Asian trip for a US President since George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Much of the trip will focus on rallying regional powers to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. North Korea has stepped up its provocations since Trump took office. Trade will also be a leading objective of the trip, according to the White House.
Wednesday, November 8
Trump and his wife, Melania, arrived in China and toured the Forbidden City, the historic palace that housed Chinese emperors and their families for almost 500 years. Trump is the first foreign leader to have an official dinner in the palace since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
Before traveling to China, Trump spent half the day in South Korea and addressed lawmakers at the National Assembly in Seoul.
In the morning, the President attempted to make an unannounced visit to the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea. But he was forced to turn back because of bad weather.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in was scheduled to join Trump at the DMZ in a show of unity, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters. The joint visit would have been the first for a US and South Korean President at the DMZ, Sanders said.
Tuesday, November 7
Trump landed in South Korea, the second stop on his trip, and had lunch at Camp Humphreys with troops from both the United States and South Korea.
Later, at a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said he believes the US-led coalition is “making a lot of progress” on the North Korean issue.
“We’re showing great strength,” Trump said. “I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it. I do see certain movement, yes.”
Moon said he and Trump carried out “candid” talks about the North Korean issue and agreed to scale up regional deployments of military forces. Moon said the United States and South Korea must “maintain (a) strong stance toward North Korea’s threats.”
Trump has been fiercely critical of KORUS, the free-trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, and he suggested earlier this year that he might terminate it. Trump said Tuesday the two had discussed making changes to the agreement, but he tempered his rhetoric on the issue during the joint appearance.
Monday, November 6
A day after arriving in Japan, the first leg of his Asian trip, Trump visited Tokyo’s Imperial Palace for a greeting with Emperor Akihito. He then settled down for meetings and lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has become Trump’s closest partner in Asia as the President confronts an increasingly hostile North Korea.
Abe said Japan and the United States are in “complete agreement” as to the way forward in dealing with North Korea, including that now is not the time for direct talks with Pyongyang. He said now is a time for a strengthening of sanctions.
“For more than 20 some years, the international community attempted dialogue with North Korea,” Abe said. “Now is the time not for dialogue but for applying a maximum level of pressure on North Korea.”
Trump declared that the “era of strategic patience is over” when it comes to the United States’ stance toward North Korea.
“Some people said that my rhetoric is very strong,” Trump said during a joint news conference in Tokyo. “But look at what’s happened with very weak rhetoric over the last 25 years. Look where we are now.”
Sunday, November 5
The Asian tour started in Japan with Trump meeting with American service members stationed at the Yokota Air Base outside Tokyo.
In his first set of remarks, Trump avoided the incendiary, bellicose rhetoric that has often defined his public stance about the North Korean threat. But he sent a clear message to North Korea and the rest of the region that American military might and strong US alliances in the region remain a critical deterrent.
He then visited Prime Minister Abe, and the two played golf and enjoyed a steak dinner before sitting down for formal talks.
Saturday, November 4 and Friday, November 3
Before heading to Asia, Trump made a stop in Hawaii. He was briefed by leaders of the US Pacific Command and toured the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. He was accompanied by the first lady.