Donald Trump’s maiden Asia trip as the US President is to “strengthen longstanding” alliances and “expand new partnerships”, his national security adviser has said.
Mr. Trump leaves the White House on Friday on a 12-day trip during which he will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Philippines. This trip is not only Mr. Trump’s longest foreign trip till date but also the longest Asia trip by a US president in more than a quarter century.
National security adviser Lt gen H R McMaster sees Mr. Trump’s Asia sojourn as part of efforts to strengthen longstanding American alliances while expanding the new partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This trip is a great opportunity to demonstrate America’s and the Trump administration’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific and our efforts to strengthen longstanding American alliances and expand new partnerships,” McMaster told reporters at a White House news conference on the eve of Trump’s departure to the region.
McMaster said in the last 10 months, Mr. Trump has actively engaged leaders in the Indo-Pacific to address a range of strategic issues, prominently the North Korean nuclear threat.
“Since taking office, Mr. Trump has placed 43 calls to Indo-Pacific leaders and conducted bilateral meetings with Japan, South Korea, China, India, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand,” he said.
In line with his presidential diplomacy, Mr. Trump’s trip will focus on three goals: strengthening international resolve to denuclearise North Korea; promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region; and advance American prosperity through fair and reciprocal trade and economic practices, McMaster said.
The United States remains committed to the complete, verifiable and permanent denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, he said.
The top presidential adviser asserted that Trump will reiterate the fact that North Korea threatens not just its allies, but also the entire world.
“That is happening. But the president recognises that we’re running out of time and will ask all nations to do more,” McMaster said.
During his meetings with world leaders, Mr. Trump will remind friend and foe alike that the US stands ready to defend itself and its allies using the full range of its capabilities, he said.
“In particular, he will continue to call on all responsible nations, especially those with the most influence over North Korea, to isolate its regime economically and politically; to convince its leaders that the pursuit of nuclear weapons is a dead end and that it is past time to denuclearise,” he added.
McMaster said Mr. Trump will also use the trip to promote his vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“He will make the case that respect for freedom of navigation and overflight, the rule of law, sovereignty, freedom from coercion, and private enterprise and open markets is the best model to increase prosperity throughout the region, and to secure the freedom and independence of all nations,” he said, adding the president will focus on his commitment to free, fair and reciprocal trade during his trip.
“He looks forward to working with partners across the Indo-Pacific region to ensure that governments do not unfairly subsidise their industries, discriminate against foreign business or restrict foreign investment. This will help increase trade, reduce unsustainable deficits, and promote prosperity for the American people and the people of the Indo-Pacific region,” McMaster said.