US President Donald Trump embarks on lengthy tour of Asia with eye on North Korea

November 4, 2017 6:01 pm

President arrives at Pacific Command at Aiea, Hawaii, on November 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

President Donald Trump has embarked on a 12-day trip to Asia, the longest tour of the continent by a US president in 25 years and one that will be shadowed by fears of another international conflict.
On the first stop of his five-nation tour, Trump will depart for Japan on Saturday looking to present a united front with Japanese leaders against North Korea.
The US president will address US and Japanese forces at Yokota air base shortly after arriving in Japan on Sunday. Trump will play a round of golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and have a state call with the Imperial Family at Akasaka Palace during his visit.
Tensions have been building on the Korean Peninsula following a series of nuclear and missile tests by Pyongyang as well as threats of war and personal insults traded between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Joint US military exercises with forces from South Korea and Japan have been a constant cause of tensions in the region. World leaders have called for restraint by all sides to the conflict.
Two US strategic bombers have carried out aerial drills over South Korea in recent days, further angering North Korea.
Besides Japan, Trump will visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

A South Korean protester displays a placard showing a caricature of US President Donald Trump during an anti-Trump rally in Seoul on November 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Before kicking off his inaugural tour, Trump flew o the US state of Hawaii on Friday and paid a solemn visit to the memorial at Pearl Harbor, the scene of the 1941 Japanese attack that plunged the into World War II.
Trump saluted after entering the USS Arizona, throwing white flower petals into the waters above the battleship’s sunken hull.
From Hawaii, Trump and his wife Melania Trump will head to Japan and then on to South Korea. Officials said earlier this week that the US president would not visit the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the border between the South and North.
Trump’s Asia tour will be dominated by trade and how to muster more pressure on Pyongyang over its missile and nuclear programs.
“We’ll be talking about trade,” Trump told reporters Friday before leaving for Hawaii. “We’ll be talking about obviously North Korea. We’ll be enlisting the help of a lot of people and countries and we’ll see what happens. But I think we’re going to have a very successful trip.”
Some US allies have expressed concerns about Trump’s fiery rhetoric on North Korea, including his vow to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens .
Some Trump’s advisers have warned him that US military options are limited at best, saying Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on Seoul, which is only about 50 kilometers from the border.
The CIA has estimated that North Korea could be only months away from developing the ability to strike the United States with nuclear weapons.
After meeting with leaders of Japan and South Korea, Trump will visit China to press President Xi Jinping to do more to rein in Pyongyang.
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