Trump: Asia trip ‘tremen­dously suc­cess­ful’

Starkville Daily News - - FORUM - By JONATHAN LEMIRE and JILL COLVIN As­so­ci­ated Press

MANILA, Philip­pines (AP) — Wrap­ping up his ex­ten­sive tour of Asia, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day hailed “tremen­dous amounts of work” on trade and said na­tions around the globe have been put on no­tice that the U.S. will de­mand im­proved trad­ing con­di­tions.

Trump told re­porters in Manila that the “fruits of our la­bor are go­ing to be in­cred­i­ble.” He was clos­ing a nearly two-week trip through Ja­pan, South Korea, China, Viet­nam and the Philip­pines that in­cluded one-on-one meet­ings with the lead­ers of those na­tions dur­ing which he stressed trade.

The pres­i­dent, who cam­paigned on shred­ding mul­ti­lat­eral trade agree­ments he has deemed un­fair, in­sisted dur­ing his trav­els that multi­bil­lion­dol­lar deficits that fa­vor U.S. trad­ing part­ners will be re­duced to zero, and that trade over­all must be fair and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial.

“The United States has to be treated fairly and in a re­cip­ro­cal fash­ion,” Trump tweeted be­fore head­ing back to Wash­ing­ton, where he is sched­uled to ar­rive later Tues­day. “The mas­sive TRADE deficits must go down quickly!”

Trump told re­porters be­fore de­part­ing an in­ter­na­tional sum­mit, “We’ve had a tremen­dously suc­cess­ful trip. Tremen­dous amounts of work was done on trade.”

The pres­i­dent spoke along the side­lines of the an­nual East Asia Sum­mit of lead­ers from through­out the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, his fi­nal sum­mit af­ter at­tend­ing a gath­er­ing of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions on Mon­day. Trump said he planned to make a “ma­jor state­ment” about his trip from the White House later this week, and spoke of the “many good friends” he made dur­ing the trip.

Among Trump’s new­est friends in the re­gion is Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, whom Trump re­peat­edly praised and joked around with on Mon­day. Duterte has over­seen a bloody crack­down on do­mes­tic drug deal­ing that has fea­tured ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, earn­ing him scorn from hu­man rights ad­vo­cates.

Trump did not pub­licly take Duterte to task for the crack­down. In­stead, Trump said he and Duterte have “had a great re­la­tion­ship” and avoided ques­tions about whether he’d raise hu­man rights con­cerns with the Filipino leader dur­ing a pri­vate meet­ing.

The White House later said they dis­cussed the Is­lamic State group, il­le­gal drugs and trade dur­ing the 40-minute meet­ing. Press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said hu­man rights came up “briefly” in the con­text of the Philip­pines’ fight against il­le­gal drugs. She did not say if Trump was crit­i­cal of Duterte’s pro­gram.

Her read­out ap­peared to con­flict with the Filipino ver­sion of the meet­ing. Harry Roque, a spokesman for Duterte, said: “There was no men­tion of hu­man rights. There was no men­tion of ex­trale­gal killings. There was only a rather lengthy dis­cus­sion of the Philippine war on drugs with Pres­i­dent Duterte do­ing most of the ex­plain­ing.”

De­spite all that, they later is­sued a joint state­ment say­ing they “un­der­scored that hu­man rights and the dig­nity of hu­man life are es­sen­tial, and agreed to con­tinue main­stream­ing the hu­man rights agenda in their na­tional pro­grams.”

Duterte’s war on drugs has alarmed hu­man rights ad­vo­cates around the world who say it has al­lowed po­lice of­fi­cers and vig­i­lantes to ig­nore due process and to take jus­tice into their own hands. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials es­ti­mate that well over 3,000 peo­ple, mostly drug users and deal­ers, have

died in the on­go­ing crack­down. Hu­man rights groups be­lieve the vic­tim to­tal is far higher, per­haps closer to 9,000.

In Manila for the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions con­fer­ence, and the sub­se­quent East Asia Sum­mit,

Trump looked to strengthen ties with Pa­cific Rim al­lies, aim­ing to strike one-on-one trade deals rather than multi­na­tional trade agree­ments, and in­crease pres­sure on North Korea to aban­don its nu­clear pro­gram.

He met with In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and high­lighted their two na­tions’ “deeper and more com­pre­hen­sive”

ties, look­ing to strengthen a re­la­tion­ship that is vi­tal to the U.S. vi­sion of an Indo-Pa­cific re­gion that at­tempts to de-em­pha­size China’s in­flu­ence.

He jointly met with Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm 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 five­na­tion jour­ney, par­tic­u­larly on trade and on North Korea, which the White House has sug­gested may be des­ig­nated a state spon­sor of ter­ror.

Trump said he would wait un­til he was back in Wash­ing­ton to elab­o­rate with a “ma­jor

state­ment” on those two top­ics, but hinted at progress while in Manila.

“We’ve made some very big steps with re­gard to trade — far big­ger than any­thing you know,” Trump told re­porters, point­ing to busi­ness deals forged be­tween U.S. and for­eign com­pa­nies.

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.

“It was red car­pet like no­body, I think, has prob­a­bly ever re­ceived,” Trump said. “And that re­ally is a sign of re­spect, per­haps for me a lit­tle, but re­ally for our coun­try. And I’m re­ally proud of that.”

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