President Trump embarked on a diplomatic tour of Asia this weekend. It will be his longest tour since taking office, covering 5 countries in the span of 12 days.
According to the White House, the purpose of the trip is to rally support among Asian nations as we ramp up the pressure on North Korea.
“The president’s strategy – and this strategy is in complete alignment with our allies: South Korea and Japan and increasingly the entire world – is to maximize pressure,” said a senior White House official. “It’s a diplomatic and economic campaign to maximize pressure on North Korea to convince the leadership in North Korea that the one way out for them is to start reducing the threat and to move toward denuclearization.”
Trump’s tour began in Japan, where he discussed North Korea, cybersecurity, and economic issues with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two world leaders have built a close relationship since Trump took office, and they regularly speak on the phone. Trump says he and Abe “like each other and our countries like each other…I don’t think that we’ve ever been closer to Japan than we are right now.”
Trump will also visit China, where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders don’t exactly see eye to eye, and Trump has repeatedly criticized China for not putting enough pressure on North Korea.
Trump’s tour will also include his second face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” said Trump during his 8-hour flight from Honolulu to Tokyo.
“We want to get it solved,” he said, referring to North Korea. “It’s a big problem for our country and for the world, and we want to get it solved. And there’s been 25 years of total weakness, and so we’re taking a very much different approach.”
As Trump visits North Korea’s neighbors, the White House is debating whether to classify North Korea as a sponsor of terrorism. Officials say we can expect an announcement soon.
Author’s Note: This trip sure looks like “coalition building” to me – something that Trump’s critics didn’t think he could do. But he is in a tough position because he is running out of ways to put pressure on North Korea. He has to convince other world leaders that Kim Jong-un is crazy enough to use his nukes.