Donald Trump heads to Asia with North Korea in mind

Pyongyang says no talks, threatens to increase nuclear arsenal.

US President Donald Trump headed to Japan on the first stop of his five-nation tour of Asia on Saturday, looking to present a united front with the Japanese against North Korea as tensions run high over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

Mr Trump, who is on a 12-day trip, is to speak to US and Japanese forces at Yokota air base shortly after arriving in Japan on Sunday and looked to stress the importance of the alliance to regional security. Joined by his wife Melania on part of the trip, Mr Trump’s tour of Asia is the longest by an American President since George H.W. Bush in 1992. Besides Japan, he will visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Mr Trump extended the trip by a day on Friday when he agreed to participate in a summit of East Asian nations in Manila. His trip got off to a colorful start in Hawaii. He was taken by boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial, where lies the WWII ship that was sunk by the Japanese during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.

The Trumps tossed white flower petals into the waters at the memorial in honor of those who died at Pearl Harbour. “We’ll be talking about trade,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House. “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. There is a lot of good will.”

Mr Trump will seek a united front with the leaders of Japan and South Korea against the North before visiting Beijing to make the case to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he should do more to rein in Pyongyang. Trade will factor in heavily during Mr Trump’s trip as he tries to persuade Asian allies to agree to trade policies more favorable to the US. Meanwhile, North Korea has ruled out talks and threatened to increase its nuclear arsenal.

State-run KCNA said in a commentary that the US should be disabused of the “absurd idea” that Pyongyang would succumb to international sanctions and give up its nuclear weapons, adding that it is in “the final stage for completing nuclear deterrence”. The White House said Mr Trump will deliver a speech at South Korea’s National Assembly and urge “common resolve in the face of shared threat”. But there is widespread concern in South Korea that the US President’s visit might worsen the situation if Mr Trump fails to rein in his fierce rhetoric.

Trump aide says had contacts with Russia

An adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has admitted meeting with Russian government officials in 2016, according to a report in the New York Times which cited his testimony before a congressional committee. Carter Page, a former Navy officer and investment banker who advised Mr Trump on foreign policy, had previously denied or side-stepped the question of whether he had met with Russian officials in previous interviews with the Times.

Shortly after a July 2016 trip, Mr Page “sent an email to at least one Trump campaign aide describing insights he had after conversations with government officials, legislators and business executives during his time in Moscow,” the Times reported. Mr Page later confirmed the meetings to the Times, and told CNN that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich was among those he met. But he downplayed the significance of the meetings, saying he had “a very brief hello to a couple of people.”

( Source : Agencies )
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