Trump hails ‘fantastic job’ on trans-Asia visit
Skips most of the Philippine summit
Donald Trump said he had done “a really fantastic job” on a five-nation tour of Asia in which he had made a lot of friends, but he ended it abruptly Tuesday by skipping most of a Philippine summit.
The US president, who began his journey in Japan 12 days ago, said his trip had seen progress in his goal of narrowing the US’ trade deficits.
“I’ve made a lot of friends at the highest level,” Trump told reporters shortly before boarding Air Force One in Manila, adding the trip was “tremendously successful.”
“I think the fruits of our labor are going to be incredible,” he said, later predicting an already unveiled $300 billion worth of trade deals “is going to be quadrupled very quickly” to over a trillion dollars.
He offered no evidence for this assessment.
“It’s been a really great 12 days,” he said. “I think we have done a really fantastic job.”
Before leaving, Trump gathered briefly with 18 other world leaders ahead of the start of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, the final set piece of his trip.
Trump had initially planned to skip the summit, then backtracked after criticism it could be seen as a snub. But he did not stay for the official start of the summit on Tuesday afternoon, also missing the preceding group photo with his fellow leaders.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat in for him at the summit, which was scheduled to run into the evening.
The summit groups the 10-member ASEAN nations with Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Russia, as well as the US.
In a trip that was dominated by the North Korean nuclear crisis, Trump was treated to pomp and pageantry in Japan and South Korea, where he repeatedly blasted North Korea.
Aboard Air Force One, he claimed success “in terms of North Korea and getting everybody together. I think their acts are all together.”
In Beijing, where Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out the red carpet for a “state visit plus” – a welcome Trump declared “people really have never seen anything like” – the White House trumpeted more than $250 billion of trade deals.
En route to Hawaii, Trump was bullish, predicting a rapid closing of the US trade deficits. “I think one of the things we really accomplished big is relationship, and also letting people know that from now on, things are going to be reciprocal,” he said.