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Donald J. Trump: Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on President Trump's Upcoming Travel to Asia
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Donald J. Trump
Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on President Trump's Upcoming Travel to Asia
October 31, 2017
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James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

10:04 A.M. EDT

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you for joining us for this off-camera, on-background briefing on the President's upcoming travel to Asia.

And for your reporting purposes today, the briefing may be attributed to a senior administration official. And for planning purposes, this backgrounder today precedes what will be an on-the-record briefing this Thursday at three o'clock by the National Security Advisor, General McMaster.

A reminder that this off-camera background briefing is not for broadcast and is embargoed until the conclusion of this briefing.

And with that, I will turn it over to my colleague.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hey, good morning, everyone. So I'll just run through the schedule for the President's trip. Some of you were here a week ago when I talked a little bit about that, but there's some additional details that we'll share today. And then I'll turn it over to my colleague to talk a little bit more on filling in the economic side of the trip.

So the President is going to make his first official visit to Asia from November 3 to November 14th, with stops in Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. During his stops in Vietnam and the Philippines, he's going to participate in the APEC, as well as the U.S.-ASEAN Summit.

The President's travel is going to underscore his commitment to longstanding U.S. alliances and partnerships, and reaffirm U.S. leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The trip is a continuation of the President's extensive diplomatic engagement with countries from the Indo-Pacific region.

Since his inauguration, President Trump has made 43 telephone calls to Indo-Pacific leaders. He's hosted bilateral meetings with leaders from Japan, South Korea, China, India, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. In some cases, he's met with those leaders more than once.

And he's also hosted two trilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of South Korea to discuss trilateral cooperation on North Korea policy.

This trip is going to be the longest duration trip to Asia by any President in the last 25 years, since President George H.W. Bush's trip in December of 1991. No President has visited more countries in the region on any one trip since President George W. Bush in October 2003.

On November 3, the President is going to visit Hawaii and receive a briefing from the U.S. Pacific Command. He's going to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

The President will commence his visit to Asia beginning with Japan on November 5th. In Japan, President Trump will reaffirm the U.S.-Japan alliance as a cornerstone for regional peace and security. The President's meetings in Japan will focus on ways for the U.S. and Japan to work together to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

On November 5, President Trump will speak to American and Japanese servicemembers at Yokota Air Force Base, and he'll also join Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a round of afternoon golf. While in Japan, President Trump will also have a state call with the Imperial Family, and then participate in a day of bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Abe.

Prime Minister Abe will also host the President for a meeting with families of Japanese citizens abducted by the North Korean regime.

On the evening of November 6th, Prime Minister Abe will host a banquet for the President and the traveling delegation.

The next morning, during his state visit to the Republic of Korea on November 7, the President will visit American and South Korean servicemembers at Camp Humphreys. He will then participate in bilateral meetings with President Moon and attend a state dinner that evening.

On November 8, the President will speak at the National Assembly, where he will celebrate the enduring alliance and friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and call on the international community to join together in maximizing pressure on North Korea.

He's going to visit the National Cemetery in Seoul to pay his respects to fallen servicemembers. And you could expect President Trump to highlight the enduring strength of the U.S. and Republic of Korea alliance, which is stronger than ever in the face of North Korea's aggression.

On November 8, President Trump will arrive in Beijing that afternoon for a series of bilateral, commercial, and cultural events, including meetings with President Xi Jinping. This will be a state visit. I anticipate that the President will seek to secure China's commitments to exert more pressure on North Korea and to rebalance U.S.-China economic relations.

The President is going to be accompanied by a CEO delegation convened by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The visit will send a clear message that, for bilateral economic relations to be sustainable over the long term, China must provide fair and reciprocal treatment to U.S. firms and cease predatory trade and investment practices.

The President will travel to Da Nang, Vietnam on November 10. That afternoon, in Da Nang, he'll participate in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders meeting, and deliver a speech at the APEC CEO summit. In the speech, the President will present the United States vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and underscore the important role the region plays in advancing American prosperity, as well as security.

The President's engagements at APEC will reinforce the U.S. commitment to an equitable, sustainable, and rules-based international economic system based on market principles.

On November 11, the President will travel to Hanoi for a state visit and bilateral engagements with President Tr?n ??i Quang and other senior Vietnamese leaders. This will be the President's second meeting with Vietnamese leadership following Prime Minister Phúc's White House visit this past May, which underscores the importance the United States places on its partnership with Vietnam.

President Trump will arrive in Manila, the Philippines on November 12 to participate in the special gala celebration for the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.

On November 13, the President will celebrate the 40th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations at the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and also participate in bilateral meetings with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and other leaders. The President's participation in ASEAN events will advance U.S. leadership in promoting an Indo-Pacific trade and security architecture based on freedom, openness, and adherence to rule of law.

So this trip is going to be President Trump's longest to date. It demonstrates the importance of robust international engagement in defense of our national security and economic prosperity for the American people.

So thanks very much.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great, thank you. I guess it's a little Halloween treat for you today to have the microphone actually attack the press corps. That was very, very exciting.

But it's really glad -- really honored to be here this morning and talk a little bit about the economic background of the trip and the President's commitment to the region, both on the national security side but also on the economic side, as well.

My colleague emphasized a very important point -- is that the President is making a long-term commitment to the region. This is the longest trip by a sitting U.S. President, I believe in, ever. And the number of countries he's touching are some of our most important bilateral relationships. He's also participating in some of the premier economic forums, including the APEC forum in Vietnam, as well as visiting Vietnam in a bilateral basis as well.

So I think this demonstrates a commitment to economic engagement across the region and his interest in helping all countries grow and thrive economically.

To achieve this shared goal, I believe you'll see an emphasis on a need for all countries to adopt economic policies based on free-market principles. This means fully embracing an international trading system which is rules-based and respects high standards; achieving fair and equitable trade relationships through the removal of unfair trade barriers; and the reduction of chronic trade deficits and adherence to market-based growth.

All too often, we see a country's resistance to opening up their markets to each other. This impedes growth. We need to see countries refrain from picking and promoting national champions at the expense of market-driven growth, and to stop trying to gain competitive advantage through stealing intellectual property, or demanding that innovators turn over their intellectual property as a price of doing business within their economies.

As my colleague mentioned, the first stop is Japan. Japan is one of our major trading partners. The President has already demonstrated a strong commitment to the U.S.-Japan economic relationship, including the initiation of a high-level U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue, which is now co-chaired by Vice President Pence and Deputy Prime Minister As?. We just wrapped up our second meeting of this dialogue, and I believe the President is likely to discuss ways that the Japan and U.S. can continue to work together to promote an open and fair trade and investment climate in the Indo-Pacific.

A couple of examples where areas of concurrence occur where we can work with Japan in the region is that both countries share a vision that development financing for major infrastructure projects should be consistent with market-based competition, transparency, and promote high standards of good governance. Both nations share concerns with third-country subsidy practices that distort global markets, and they both share a goal of ensuring energy security throughout the region.

In Korea, again, economics will be a key area of discussion, where President Trump and President Moon have already committed to foster expanded and balanced trade while creating reciprocal benefits and fair treatment between the two countries. In this regard, both countries are committed to fostering a truly fair and level playing field, including working together to address concerns with the U.S.-Korea bilateral trade agreement.

On China, a big focus of the discussion, I think, with the Chinese government and also with APEC economies is a need to have a balance in the trading relationship for bilateral economic relations to be sustainable. Although, over the long term, China must provide fair and reciprocal treatment not just to U.S. firms but to firms across the region. That means ceasing predatory trade and investment practices.

Progress on a range of bilateral economic issues has become increasingly difficult. We believe this reflects a slowdown and even a retreat in China's move toward a market-oriented economy. China is now so large that its distortionary practices not only have effects within the U.S. market, but in markets around the world.

For countries to thrive in the region, we need to have a removal of these state-driven subsidies and a more market-oriented economic approach. The current trajectory is not sustainable not just for the United States but also for countries in the region. Therefore, it will be no surprise that the President will continue to push China to follow through on commitments that it's made recently and also when it joined the WTO to take steps towards a more market-oriented economy.

Vietnam is also a very important economy which we will be working to remove unfair trade barriers but also looking for ways to enhance our economic dialogue. We think Vietnam is an excellent partner in the region and that there's a lot of opportunity for us to engage in finding ways to work together bilaterally and regionally to promote growth throughout the region.

APEC, as you know, is the premier economic forum in the region. It has been very active in promoting a free and open Asia Pacific. The President embraces that agenda. He will look to enhance U.S. competitors and economic prosperity in the region as participating through that forum.

It is an opportunity to talk about his priorities, including the need for countries to adopt fair and balanced trade; the importance of ensuring that digital trade remains a key driver of economic growth in the region; a discussion about structural reforms to create a level playing field, including increasing transparency and reducing corruption; and fourth, improving services' trade competitiveness, where this is a priority for the U.S. economy, where service represents more than 70 percent of our GDP.

We will also be looking to advance and highlight the importance of women's economic participation in all economies, and there will be a number of events there that will emphasize that as well.

In ASEAN, the President will continue his push for fair and reciprocal treatment, and reassert his commitment to economic engagement which enhances relationships with countries in the region, and look for others to embrace free-market principles to ensure economic growth.

And I'll stop there. And would you like to join?

Q: You mentioned that progress on a range of bilateral issues that have been increasingly difficult with China. How do you assess that? What's the cause of that? And could you be a little bit more specific as to what bilateral issues you're talking about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. To put this in the broader context, many of you know that the idea in the WTO is that economies come in, they do accession protocols, they become members of an economy -- of the World Trade Organization. And part of the agreement among all the parties is that they will adhere to those commitments and adopt market-based principles.

And there was a period where China took on a lot of underlying economic reforms and it did lead to some significant growth, both in their exports, but also opportunities for others for others to engage in that economy.

I think what we're seeing is a trajectory of retrenchment, a trajectory of moving away from market-based principles. And as member of the WTO, that is not a sustainable direction. It is not a way to promote economic growth in the region. It's not a way for American and other companies to ensure fair access to that market.

So we'd like to see China move towards more the market-oriented, systemic changes that would be necessary to help really thrive and enhance growth in the region, and help all the economies thrive.

Q: Can I follow on that? Jessica Stone with China Global Television. How does the administration have a leg to stand on with respect to enforcing WTO when you're using 321, which is outside of the WTO procedure for trade complaints?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, let's be clear. I'm not sure, 321 -- do you think you mean 232?

Q: Yeah, sorry -- excuse me, 232.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, it's okay. All the numbers are -- I'm sure that is a very important number, but in the trade context it's 232. (Laughter.)

So, look, the 232 investigation is ongoing and it's a legitimate tool that Congress provided the administration to address concerns with national security.

Q: For the existing (inaudible) WTO.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We still have the tools; they're still being utilized. And we are taking into account all the responsibilities as a WTO member, but also looking at ways in which the WTO may not address all elements of some of the state-driven practices.

So we think it's a legitimate tool and we will continue the investigation. And we'll see where that leads.

Q: Can I also have you address the -- there's a Reuters report today about concerns of the U.S. business lobby, which says that they don't feel that the U.S. President is prepared enough to talk about the imbalances in the trade relationships during the China visit, in particular.

This is a quote from William Zarit, the Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, saying that they haven't seen enough preparations on the U.S. side for that discussion. Can you comment on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know him. I disagree. I mean, we're quite prepared. We've analyzed this probably more than most administrations and have a very good understanding of some of the areas we'd like to see improvement.

Let's go all the way to the back.

Q: Yeah, a lot of the things that you describe about the trade barriers and so forth in Vietnam, with Southeast Asia, weren't those taken care of -- or would have been taken care of by TPP? And if so, why did you pull out?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, look, TPP was an agreement that was intended to provide very high standards in the region, and I think one of dynamics behind it is that it didn't achieve that objective. And there's also a strong concern with full adherence to the commitments. And the reality is that there are greater prospects through bilateral engagement, and greater -- higher standards can be achieved.

Many of these barriers that exist today are, frankly, WTO inconsistent barriers, as well. So we would like to see a renewed spirit, a renewed commitment to ensuring that countries live up to all their commitments, including intellectual property protection, getting rid of unjustified investment restrictions, and really having a spirit of market openness that I think would achieve a greater rate of growth for the United States and then the region as a whole.

Q: But those three things you just mentioned, were those not in the TPP?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that the -- we continue to discuss all those areas that were within -- we continue to discuss all those areas with these countries. So we definitely will remain engaged in that space.

Let's go --

Q: I have one for your colleague, actually. I'm (inaudible) from TV Tokyo. With regard to the families of abductees, how was the decision brought about? Did the President take a personal interest in meeting with Yokota -- Megumi's parents? Or could you elaborate on how that decision came about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. Some of the family members of abductees came and visited the White House, met with White House staff, including myself some time ago. I can't remember exactly when it was. Maybe three months ago.

And we told the President about that, and he was very much interested and moved by their stories. He mentioned one of the cases -- as you mentioned -- in his speech at the United Nations. So this was an opportunity for him to meet firsthand with some of the victims of the North Korean regime.

Q: Has the President backed off of his earlier requests that Japan pay more in the U.S.-Japan alliance for its bases?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So I think from the President's personal diplomacy and from this administration's diplomacy across the board, what you can see is a very close collaboration between these allies -- the United States and Japan -- to ensure that Japan is able to defend itself adequately against the North Korean threat. And that means upgrading certain systems. Of course, it means continuing to share the burden in that respect.

Q: Is there still an expectation to do more on the Japan side?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that there's -- I'll leave it to the Japanese people to decide that. Clearly, there's a mandate, I think. The President, when he spoke to congratulate Prime Minister Abe on the big election win earlier this month, spoke of the mandate that he has. And part of his mandate clearly is, of course, that of any leader's, which is to defend the Japanese people and uphold his alliance.

Yes.

Q: Thank you. When President Trump visits Camp Humphreys in South Korea, will the President ask the South Korean government to increase defense spending?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So the President is visiting Camp Humphreys in part because it's such an excellent example of burden-sharing by the South Korean government. The South Korean government paid the vast majority of the costs for building that base and repositioning some of the U.S. forces and their families on the Peninsula. The President is delighted that he's going to have the opportunity to visit with South Korean troops, as well as American troops at Camp Humphreys.

Mark.

Q: Thanks. Two North Korea questions. One, what's your latest assessment of how much the Chinese have done to pressure the North, and how much more they still have left to do?

And then secondly, when Secretary of State Tillerson was in Beijing, President Trump tweeted, in effect, that diplomacy was a waste of time. The Chinese are obviously going to encourage him to pursue diplomacy because that's what they always do. What is his response going to be when they make that ask?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So on -- I'm sorry, the first part of the question was?

Q: How much have they done to pressure the North --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, yes, of course.

Q: -- to date, and how much more do you want to see them do?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Chinese have done a great deal. They've done more than I think many expected they would do. And the U.S. is working more closely with China on the North Korea problem than ever.

That said, there is clearly more that China could do that would go beyond the U.N. Security Council resolutions given that the vast majority of North Korean external trade flows in and out of China. Upholding and enforcing those U.N. Security Council resolutions is absolutely critical. And of course, we're always very much encouraging and watching to make sure that all of the member states of the United Nations, including China, uphold those.

On the President's --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't usually do this, but I want to clarify something. The President did not tweet that diplomacy was -- this is also on background, everybody; it's the same ground rules -- did not tweet that diplomacy is a waste of time. He tweeted that direct talks with North Korea was a waste of time.

We're still pursuing diplomacy throughout the region to deal with this threat with other countries to convince them to downgrade diplomatic relations, to convince them to send home guest workers, to deny the regime resources, and so on. So the diplomatic campaign goes on. But the administration's position and the President's clear position is that direct talks with North Korea are unwise at this time and for the foreseeable future, absent significant change in behavior by the regime.

Q: The Chinese position has long been that's what they want to see. They want to see some kind of direct engagement.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's exactly right, but I would add to that that this administration from its earliest days made clear that the door was open for substantive dialogue with North Korea.

North Korea has shown zero inclination to engage in substantive talks with anyone in the world on this subject -- not with South Korea, not with the United States, not even with China. So I think that the operative question is: Why is that the case? And it would be good to explore that.

Yes, ma'am.

Q: Hi, I'm Tara McKelvey with the BBC. Can you tell us what you're doing to prepare for your visit with President Duterte and what President Trump is also doing?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. The President -- our President, for all of his stops, has been receiving briefings this week and in the weeks leading up. He's met with so many leaders in the region that -- he's very well briefed on the Indo-Pacific, on our role, on what our interests are there and what he wants to achieve.

So in many respects, it will be a continuation of a conversation that he's already been having, again, in 43 phone calls with leaders from the region and all of the bilateral meetings that he's done here at the White House, and on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, up in Hamburg for the G20. So he's quite well prepared and engaged for this trip.

President Duterte, he's spoken with, they've had exchanges of letters. I think there's a warm rapport there, and he's very much looking forward to his first in-person meeting with President Duterte.

Q: I appreciate what you both said about the length of the trip, but can you explain the rationale for not staying one more day and going to the EAS, since China is really trying to exploit his absence?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. So it's not accurate to say that the President is not present for the launch of the EAS. The President is going to be attending a gala dinner on the night of the 12th, celebrating ASEAN's 50th anniversary, its 40th anniversary of ties with the United States, and also the EAS as well.

The next morning is a formal launch ceremony where President Trump is going to meet with all of the leaders of the summits, including the EAS summits, and that will be the formal launch of EAS.

So I don't think it's accurate to say he's not going to be there. The meeting that happens on the 14th, the United States will be well represented at that meeting. But that meeting does not account for the entirety of the EAS. The President has to come back to work. Again, this is the longest trip of his presidency, the longest trip in more than a quarter of a century to Asia. We can't have him away from Washington forever.

Yes.

Q: Me? Can I go?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Please, yeah. Both of you. One.

Q: Okay, let me go really quickly. I will follow up because he has a follow-up question really quickly. He wanted to know if you were saying that Duterte had a warm rapport with President Trump. So fit that in.

And then, second of all, I'm asking about the cast of characters, so to speak, that we could see on the U.S. side on this trip. We're seeing reports that Gary Cohn might not be there, that Steve Mnuchin also seems like he might not be there because they're pushing tax reform, that Ivanka Trump will be in Japan but she's dropping off the rest of the trip. Could you address that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure.

Q: Lots of hats, sorry.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that's all right.

Yeah, the President in his phone call with President Duterte, they had a rapport, and they've continued to communicate. The amount of cooperation that's taking place below the leader level and made possible by our longstanding relationship and alliance with the Philippines is still very robust. And that expands to areas like counterterror, all of the close people-to-people ties between the country, and human rights as well. And so the President will have frank and friendly discussions in his first meeting with Mr. Duterte.

Q: And then on the other --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And as for the "cast of characters," the final makeup of the U.S. delegation, I'll defer to General McMaster. He's going to give a briefing later this week that will go into those details as well.

Q: But, I guess, more or less, is it true that Ivanka Trump will be in Japan, but she's dropping off the trip after that and won't be in Beijing and South Korea?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not going to go into the specifics of who's where and when at what stop. I'll leave that to later this week with General McMaster.

Yeah. Hey guys, I tapped you as well.

Q: Thank you. Rita Cheng from Central News Agency Taiwan. My question is about an economic issue. I'm just wondering: What's the Trump administration's strategy for the rule-based and the high-standard market principle, since you are withdrawing from the TPP? Can we expect something like Trump Pacific partnership, something like that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So President Trump wants to achieve -- and I'll defer to my colleague on this in a second -- but he wants to achieve fair and reciprocal trade. He wants the principles of -- market principles to be what are most operative in our trading relations throughout the world.

And so elements of the TPP -- frankly, some of that was watered down as more and more partners were brought on. The President, from his own experience before he was in politics, gave him a very firm conviction that on a bilateral basis he would be able to achieve higher standards and better terms for American workers and for American business, and also do a better job of upholding those high standards that the U.S. relies on -- intellectual property protection and so forth, as well as labor protection and environmental standards.

So if you look at the history of TPP and how it was negotiated, there was an erosion over time as the deal broadened. So his view is we can do better than that.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just add just a couple of quick comments on that. I think that many lose sight that TPP was not supported by the Congress, and, in its form, it was not going to pass the U.S. Congress. So it's not just this President. I mean, President -- many of the candidates running for office for the presidency disapproved of TPP.

So the concerns with the agreement were both bipartisan and longstanding, and well articulated both by the Congress and by many candidates. So to have this idea that TPP was an inevitable outcome is, I think, missing a key factor that many believe that it was not the high rule or systemic changes that we needed to see to really reap change and growth in the hemisphere.

Putting aside TPP, when we talk about high standards, when we talk about growth, we need to keep in mind that there are many, many elements to this. There's obviously trade; trade is a big part of it. We have a lot of rules on the books. We have many, many dialogues, including trade and investment framework agreements with many countries where we persistently sit at the table and address concerns and point out areas where there may be actions taken that are inconsistent with some commitments or simply not market-driven choices. And we ask for the removal of those because we believe they're market-distorting and that they hurt those economies as well as our ability to compete in the region and for both to grow.

When we talk about high standards, we're talking about high standards in energy development; we're talking about high standards in infrastructure development; we're talking about high standards in development financing. And that means accountability, transparency, openness, and real, concrete conversations.

One of the things that I think is a little hard for some to understand is the difference between actions and words. And there are many agreements that parties are a part of, and the reality is that President Trump wants to see actions. He wants to see real actions to live up to those standards and to really open the markets. And I think that's going to be a key theme of his visit throughout the region.

Q: I with ARD Public German Television. I wonder whether the President is planning to meet Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of APEC. And if yes, is there a bilateral? And what are the most pressing issues with Russia now?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So 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 in Manila and in Da Nang.

Q: Is he hoping to meet Putin?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll defer to General McMaster when he gives you a briefing later this week.

Q: The DMZ?

Q: Just to be clear, is the DMZ not happening based on that schedule?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: DMZ -- the President is not going to visit the DMZ. There is not enough time in the schedule. It would have had to have been the DMZ or Camp Humphreys. No President has visited Camp Humphreys and we thought that that made more sense in terms of its messaging, in terms of the chance to address families and troops there, and to highlight -- really, at President Moon's invitation -- South Korea's role in sharing the burden of supporting this critical alliance.

So it's been a minority of American Presidents who have visited the DMZ since the end of the Korean War. It's fewer than half. We just had Secretary Mattis there last week at the DMZ. We had Vice President Pence there earlier this year. Secretary Tillerson was there. It's becoming a little bit of a cliché, frankly. And that's why he's going to be down at Humphreys.

END 10:39 A.M. EDT



Citation: Donald J. Trump: "Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on President Trump's Upcoming Travel to Asia," October 31, 2017. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=128483.
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