Trump wraps Asia trip, promises 'major statement' on return to D.C.

"It's been a great 12 days. It was red carpet like nobody ... has probably ever received," the president said Tuesday.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 14, 2017 at 7:54 AM
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Nov. 14 (UPI) -- In wrapping his 12-day whirlwind Asia tour in the Philippines Tuesday, President Donald Trump hailed the five-nation trip as productive and successful -- and promised a "major" announcement upon his return to the United States.

"I think the fruits of our labor are going to be incredible, whether it's security of our nations, whether it's security of the world or whether it's trade," the president told reporters aboard Air Force One as it left Manila.

"It's been a great 12 days. It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received," Trump said before he left. "And that really is a sign of respect, perhaps for me a little bit, but really for our country."

The president said a significant statement will be made on his return to Washington.

"I will be making a major statement from the @WhiteHouse upon my return to D.C.," he tweeted.

Trump started the trip Nov. 3 and made stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. He met with leaders Shinzo Abe (Japan), Xi Jinping (China), Trần Đại Quang (Vietnam) and Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines).

The trip generated billions of dollars in trade agreements, mostly with China. Trump put the figure at $300 billion, with an expectation that it would soon triple. Trump has underscored the importance of nation-to-nation trade deals in Asia instead of multi-nation free trade partnerships, like the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Still, the 11-nation TPP, from which the United States withdrew in January, remains in force in the region. In Japan, Trump urged purchase of U.S. military equipment.

China agreed that the Korean Peninsula should be free of nuclear weapons, but Xi offered no additional commitment to the goal after meeting with Trump. There were no evident concessions from China on trade matters Trump brought up, including those of steel dumping and theft of intellectual property.

Xi has called for a free trade zone, led by China, in the Pacific region.

Many observers were surprised Monday by the positive rapport between Trump and Duterte, in view of the Philippine leader's controversial track record on human rights. Duterte had a strained relationship with former President Barack Obama and has allegedly ordered thousands killed in drug crackdowns in his country.

Duterte and Trump offered a joint statement Monday, saying their meeting "underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential" -- although the Philippine government said Monday the two didn't discuss the issue of human rights abuses at all. Trump boasted of a "great relationship" with Duterte.

Only once during the trip did Trump provide an off-script antagonistic remark. He objected to being called "old" by North Korean leader Kim Jung Un.

"I would NEVER call him short and fat," Trump tweeted.

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