Trump: ‘No dictator’ should underestimate US resolve
TOKYO – Agence France-Presse
Speaking to cheering military personnel at Yokota Air Base just west of Tokyo minutes after landing, Trump donned a bomber jacket and said “no one, no dictator, no regime and no nation should underestimate... American resolve.”
“Every once in a while in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?” roared Trump.
“We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag.”
Trump’s marathon trip comes with the North Korea crisis at fever pitch, as U.S. bombers fly sorties over the Korean peninsula and fears mount of another Pyongyang missile test.
According to the Washington Post, Pentagon officials have warned that the only way to locate and secure North Korea’s nuclear weapons sites would be via a ground invasion.
North Korea itself welcomed Trump to the region with a rhetorical volley via the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, warning a “spiritual instable” president against making “reckless remarks.”
The president’s first stops are Japan and South Korea -- frontline U.S. allies in the effort to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program, and the two countries with most to fear should a full-scale conflict break out.
Trump touched down under clear blue Tokyo skies and stepped out with his wife Melania in bright sunshine to greet the crowds.
Speaking to reporters on the plane, he announced he would likely be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin during the tour, as the international community scrambles for a solution to the North Korean crisis.
“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” said Trump.
He added that North Korea was a “big problem for our country and for the world, and we want to get it solved” but had kind words for its people.
“I think they’re great people. They’re industrious. They’re warm, much warmer than the world really knows or understands. They’re great people. And I hope it all works out for everybody,” he said.
The next stop was a golfing date with his “friend” Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, with whom he enjoys a close personal relationship.
Trump joked with reporters on Air Force One that they should not believe him if he claims to outhit Hedeki Matsuyama, one of the world’s best players who joined the leaders on the course.
Abe also appeared to have enjoyed his nine holes, tweeting: “A round of golf with a marvellous friend (President Donald J. Trump), full of spirited conversation.”
The Japanese leader has emerged strengthened from a crushing victory in a snap election and has firmly supported Trump in his policy of exerting maximum pressure on Kim, backed up with the threat of military force.
“I want to further cement the bond of the Japan-U.S. alliance, based on our relations of trust and friendship with President Trump,” Abe said as Trump arrived.
Trump for his part described Japan as a “treasured partner and crucial ally of the U.S.”
After Japan, Trump travels to Seoul, where his relationship with President Moon Jae-In is noticeably cooler.
While Trump has been in regular contact with the hawkish Abe during the North Korean crisis, he pointedly failed to speak to Moon for several days after Pyongyang’s second intercontinental ballistic missile test in July.
From Seoul, Trump travels to China to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping who, like Abe, has solidified his grip on power after being handed a second term.
Trump said before his trip that China could have a “big problem” with “warrior nation” Japan if the North Korea issue is not solved.
He then travels to an Pacific Rim summit in Vietnam before heading to a gathering of Southeast Asian leaders.