Trump refuses to attend East Asia summit

White House says Trump will not attend summit with ASEAN leaders for second straight year

The President completes his 12-day tour of Asia, promising to make an important statement from the White House on the basis of international meetings

US President Donald Trump missed East Asia Summit plenary at the last moment due to backlog of events.

Instead, he boarded the presidential plane that took off from Ninoy Aquino International Airport more than 30 minutes ahead of schedule on Tuesday afternoon, and left the Philippines..

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tasked with representing Trump at the summit.

White House officials clarified that Trump said what he wanted to say at the summit during lunch for the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The addition of another day to Trump’s stay in the Philippines was largely done to enable him to participate in the East Asia Summit – an important regional strategic dialogue.

Trump completed a 12-day tour of five Asian countries without making any major political announcements, which did not stop him from calling it an “extremely successful trip” and remarking that he “made many friends at the highest level.”.

Without going into details, Trump also said that one of the results of his tour was the conclusion of business agreements worth at least $ 300 billion, and possibly three times more..

“We explained that the US is open to trade, but we want mutual trade, fair trade for the US,” he told reporters at the Philippine International Convention Center shortly before leaving the country. At the same time, he accused the previous American administrations of allowing the “exploitation” of the country..

During the tour, Trump emphasized that his administration rejects multilateral trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, preferring bilateral economic agreements..

“I think the fruits of our labors will be incredible, whether it is about the security of our peoples, the security of the world or trade. It’s really worth it, “Trump explained on Tuesday..

The President said that an important announcement of his trip will be made by the White House on Wednesday or Thursday..

Observers rate Trump’s tour differently.

In Asia, Trump has “made it clear that economic and defense issues cannot be separated,” said Curtis Chin, who was appointed Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank by President George W. Bush..

“This is true even now that the American pivot to Asia is giving way to the pivot to Asia of American business,” he told VOA..

However, Susan Rice, a former national security adviser to the Obama administration, said Trump’s tour left the United States “more isolated and in retreat, handing China leadership in the newly nascent Indo-Pacific on a silver tray.”.

After a good start to the tour in Japan and South Korea, “in China, the wheels of his diplomatic bus began to fall off,” Rice wrote in a column published by the New York Times..

Trump refuses to attend East Asia summit

“The Chinese leadership has played on Trump’s feelings like a violin, catering to his unquenchable ego and substituting pomp and ceremonial for the heart of the matter,” she said..

Chin, who is now a fellow at the nonpartisan Milken Institute, sees things differently..

“Amid uncertainty over how a president who had neither diplomatic nor political experience can behave on the diplomatic stage, the US president has more than exceeded expectations,” Chin said. – In terms of basketball, Trump’s first tour of Asia was a throw from the top (idiom for beautiful action that gives significant success – ed.). The challenge now for the United States is to build relationships and strengthen alliances in Asia, building on Trump’s visit to Asia, especially as China continues to rise. “.

The most notable gap in Trump’s trip, according to some, was his disregard for human rights issues other than those related to North Korea..

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Monday that the human rights issue was raised during Trump’s talks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. However, a spokesman for the Philippine leader insists that this was not the case..

Shortly before leaving Manila, Trump said that relations between the United States and the Philippines were “terrible”, but as a result of his visit, they became “very, very strong.”.

According to him, from the point of view of strategic relations, this is more important than trade. The President called the Philippines “the most valuable land plot from a military point of view”.

A senior US administration official told VOA: “We didn’t come here to lecture, as President Obama did.” The official added that during closed-door talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump has been persistent on several key issues..

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