Trump meets with allies as his Asia trip winds down
MANILA, Philippines — President Donald Trump is winding down his lengthy Asia trip with an international summit and a series of meetings with Pacific Rim allies, including his host in the Philippines who is overseeing a bloody drug war.
Trump jointly met with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, with whom he had a contentious phone call last winter, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who hosted the president in Tokyo earlier in the trip. Trump raved about his accomplishments on his five-nation journey, including on trade and North Korea, but said he would wait until his return to Washington on Wednesday to elaborate with a “major statement.”
“We’ve made some very big steps with regard to trade — far bigger than anything you know,” Trump told reporters at the beginning of the meeting in Manila, touting business deals forged between U.S. and foreign companies.
“We’ve made a lot of big progress on trade. We have deficits with almost everybody. Those deficits are going to be cut very quickly and very substantially,” Trump said.
“Except us,” Turnbull chimed in, to laughs.
“You’re the only one,” Trump responded. Trump also said the trip had been “very fruitful” for the United States and pointed to the warm welcomes he had received in capitals like Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.
The opening ceremonies of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations conference began with pageantry, including a group photo of the leaders and the summit’s traditional handshake. That cross-body handshake, during which each leader shakes the opposite hands of those next to him or her, briefly baffled Trump, who then laughed as he figured out where to place his arms.
One of the leaders on his flank: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a bloody drug war that has featured extrajudicial killings. The two men are also slated to hold longer, formal talks later today and White House aides signaled that Trump is not expected to publicly bring up human rights in their discussions.
Trump will also meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, which plays a key role in the U.S. vision of an Indo-Pacific region that attempts to de-emphasize China’s influence. And he is slated to have dinner with Turnbull.
President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday at an ASEAN Summit dinner at the SMX Convention Center in Manila.