Trump is Going to Asia and So is Putin

President Donald Trump prepares to leave for an economic- and national security-focused, 12-day trip to Asia Friday, taking bi-lateral meetings with leaders from Japan, China, and Vietnam among others in an effort designed to present the US vision of a “free and open IndoPacific region,” said senior administration officials Tuesday.

But will he meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will also be in the region? The White House won’t rule it out, officials said.

The White House did not rule out the possibility that President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 12-day trip to Asia.

Asked during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday whether a Putin meeting was in the works, a senior administration official said, “The president is going to have a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines, but we’re not prepared yet to confirm those other than the ones that are being hosted by the host countries themselves.”

Asked for clarification, a White House official said, “No further details on the schedule at this time.”

Putin is expected to participate in the APEC summit in Vietnam, which Trump will also attend.

The trip is expected to underscore what Trump hopes to promote as a long-term “commitment to economic engagement in the region,” and will be highlighted by meetings to discuss trade with leaders from Japan, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Trump hopes to emphasize his vision of encouraging fair and reciprocal treatment in the economic sectors of Asian countries, as well as his ideas about market-based competition, transparency, and a reduction in state subsidies (particularly in China).

Trump is also expected to discuss the growing threat of North Korea to the region and the desire to ensure that allies are able to defend themselves adequately, officials said.

“This administration from its earliest days made clear that the door was open” for substantive talks with North Korea, officials told reporters Tuesday. North Korea has declined to engage in those talks. “Why is that the case? Explore that,” officials said.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is expected to flesh out further details of the trip at a briefing scheduled for Thursday.