President Donald Trump said Wednesday that “America’s standing in the world has never been stronger” after his just-completed two-week trip to Asia.
Trump stood in the White House and gave a recap of his five-nation tour, which he called “historic” and a “tremendous success.”
“Everywhere we went, our foreign host greeted the American delegation … with incredible warmth, hospitality and, most importantly, respect.”
Along with a handful of trade and investment deals with China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed there could be no “freeze for freeze” agreement with North Korea. That is a deal in which the North would freeze its nuclear program if the U.S. and South Korea froze military exercises on the peninsula.
Trump said Xi recognized that a nuclearized North Korea is a “grave threat” to China.
Trump said past deals with the North by previous U.S. administrations had “consistently failed.” He said while all options remained on the table in dealing with Pyongyang, time was running out.
Targeting trade deficit
On trade, Trump said the U.S. was going to start “whittling down” its trade deficit with Asia as fast as possible.
He said insisting on fair and reciprocal trade with America’s Asian partners was one of the goals of his trip.
The president said unfair trading practices that steal U.S. intellectual property and jobs could not be tolerated.
Trump took a swipe at his predecessors in the White House, saying they had failed to protect and promote the interests of the American people, as he repeated his promise to put U.S. interests first.
“We will never again turn a blind eye to … cheating,” he said, referring to longtime accusations that trading partners have violated trade deals and rules.
China has been on the receiving end of many of Trump’s past complaints. Some of the president’s critics said he was not forceful enough in making those concerns known when he came face to face last week with Xi.
Trump made no mention of human rights during Wednesday’s speech, and except for North Korea, the topic scarcely emerged during his Asian visit — including in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has been accused of encouraging extrajudicial police killings of suspected drug users and dealers.