By KEN THOMAS
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House announced Friday that President Donald Trump will take a five-nation trip to the Asia Pacific region in November as the U.S. seeks to curb North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.
The White House said Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov. 3-14, a trip that will also include a stop in Hawaii. It will be Trump’s first visit to the region as president, and it comes as North Korea moves closer to its goal of having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the U.S.
The White House said Trump’s visit would “strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Trump has offered fiery rhetoric and a tough stance against the North’s nuclear weapons program, declaring in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if provoked. North Korea responded with pledges to take the “highest-level” action against the United States and warned that it might conduct the “most powerful” atmospheric hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean.
Trump is also expected to discuss trade and economic ties to the region and will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in the Philippines.
Even as Washington and Beijing grapple with that security crisis in North Korea, Trump has pressed China for more balanced trade with America.
Trump has been openly critical of China’s large trade surpluses with the United States and last month ordered an investigation into whether Beijing improperly pressures companies to hand over their technology in exchange for market access.
His trip to China will come weeks after Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to receive a second five-year term as the leader of China’s communist party. Trump has sought to forge a personal relationship with Xi, hosting the Chinese president at his Mar-a-Lago resort in April.
In a prelude to Trump’s trip to China, Trump met Thursday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, who was attending the inaugural dialogue on people-to-people ties in Washington.