WASHINGTON (Reuters) – 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.
Joined by his wife Melania, Trump will travel Nov. 3-14. His visit will include attending two major summits, 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 U.S. 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.
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.”
The diplomat said Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal early this year had raised questions about the administration’s commitment to the region. But visits by senior officials, including the secretaries of state, defense and commerce, and Trump’s planned trip, showed Washington intended to remain engaged.
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, who has been locked in an increasingly bitter war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will have the opportunity to bolster allied resolve for what he calls the “complete denuclearization” of Pyongyang.
He has denounced Kim as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission for test launches of ballistic…