that will take him to five Asian countries: Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, but the tour will likely be dominated by the North Korean nuclear threat, CBS News’ Margaret Brennan reports.
In a show of force ahead of the president’s trip, the U.S. is stationing three aircraft carriers in the Pacific and on Thursday sent two B1 bombers in exercises with Japanese and South Korean fighter jets. North Korea’s state media called the flight a “surprise nuclear drill” and accused “gangster-like U.S. imperialists” of trying to start a nuclear war.
On the eve of the longest and most consequential foreign trip of his young presidency, the president raised doubt about the fate of America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Thursday night the president said the buck stops at the Oval Office and called unfilled slots in the State Department a cost-saving measure.
“Rex is in there working hard. He’s doing his best, he’s doing the best he can,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump, who has criticized his secretary of state, left Tillerson’s future open-ended.
“Well, we’ll see,” he said in an interview airing— a non-endorsement of America’s top diplomat on the eve of the president’s overseas trip.
Trump gears up for first trip to Asia as president
President Trump will head to Asia on Friday, as attention intensifies on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and Republican’s push for …
First stop, U.S. Pacific command in Hawaii, the hub of U.S. military might in Asia. It’s an unmistakable signal that the Trump administration has the growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea in its sight.
“North Korea is a thing that I think we will solve and if we don’t solve it, it’s not going to be very pleasant for them, it’s not going to be very pleasant I guess for anybody,” Mr. Trump said.
The president will attempt to reassure allies in Japan and South Korea as well as pressure China, the centerpiece of his Asian tour. Mr. Trump has pledged to get tough on what he calls Beijing’s unfair trade practices but he is relying on them to rein in Kim Jong Un.
The Trump administration insists that it does not want to directly negotiate with North Korea, but is open to diplomacy. Despite the high stakes, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the president will continue to talk tough.
“The president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously,” McMaster said. “I don’t think the president really modulates his language. Have you noticed him do that?”
McMaster said the administration is still considering putting North Korea back on its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism. McMaster also mentioned that the president may meet with Vladimir Putin in Vietnam.
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