THE WASHINGTON TIMES – GUY TAYLOR
The North Korean nuclear menace threatens to overshadow a large and diverse agenda as President Trump embarks Friday on the first major Asia visit of his presidency — an 11-day tour to include stops in five countries, a high-stakes summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a possible meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Warm receptions at the start of the trip in Japan and South Korea may provide respite from the political strife and sagging polls that Mr. Trump faces in Washington, but the president will be navigating the most delicate diplomatic challenge of his tenure when he arrives Wednesday in Beijing.
“China is the most important stop on the trip,” said Joseph DeTrani, a longtime former U.S. intelligence official and regional specialist, who noted that Mr. Xi will be riding high after cementing his power and winning a second five-year term at last month’s 19th Communist Party Congress.
Mr. Xi’s strong political position may make him less likely to be conciliatory on issues such as North Korea, trade deficits and the South China Sea, but Mr. Trump’s aides say he will forcefully press the U.S. case and signal the Trump administration’s determination to preserve the U.S. role in the region.
A senior administration official said on background this week that Mr. Trump hopes “to secure China’s commitments to exert more pressure on North Korea and to rebalance U.S.-China economic relations.”