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Indo-Pacific region’s role will be discussed

Amid tension on North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and nuclear explosion, US President Donald Trump will undertake visit to five Asian countries: Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines in the first fortnight of November this year. The trip is expected to be dominated by the North Korea nuclear threat.

According to White House press release issued on Friday, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will travel from November3 to 14. During the trip, president will participate in a series of bilateral, multilateral and cultural engagements- including the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila, the Philippine.

According to New York Times, Trump was reluctant to attend Manila summit to avoid showing support for Philippine President Rogrigo Duterete who had several anti-American outbursts.

The press release further states, “The President’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Though India is not included in President’s south Asia trip, the White House says that President “will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America’s prosperity and security.”

New York Times quoted a US official saying that Asian leaders who met Trump at the UN General Assembly last week helped persuade him to attend in the unity with key Asian allies.

In his early days in White House, President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal had raised questions about Washington’s commitment to the region. However visits by secretaries of state, defense and commerce and Trump’s forthcoming visit indicates that the region figures in administration’s priority list.

President Donald Trump has been locked in constant bitter war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump’s threat of “fire and fury” was met with Kim’s “ashes and darkness” warning. Trump has recently denounced Kim as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission and warned North Korea would face devastation if it threatens the US. Kim then blasted Trump as “mentally deranged.”

Trump’s visit to China is in response to President Xi Jinping’s US visit in April this year. Trump had exerted heavy pressure on China to rein in North Korea resulting in Beijing deciding to impose trade and banking embargo. Trump had recently appreciated China for “breaking off all banking relationships with North Korea”.  

Recently Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told his Chinese counterpart that the two presidents had established “a very regular and close working relationship”. Chinese top diplomat State councilor Yang Jiechi has described Trump’s visit as of great importance to the bilateral relationship. “Let us concentrate on cooperation and properly manage our differences in a spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit,” he said to Tillerson.

Japan and South Korea, the prominent US allies in the region, are the immediate neighbours of North Korea. North Korea has fired missiles flying over northern Japan recently. Pyongyang has also threatened to fire missiles near Guam, the unincorporated US territory in south Pacific Ocean.

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