President Donald Trump is expected to seek Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help dealing with the threat from North Korea on the sidelines of his trip to Asia, which began Sunday when Air Force One touched down in Japan.
Trump told reporters midair he’s expecting to meet with the leader, whom he met for first time July 7 during a G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The meeting will happen while Trump is in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Friday and Saturday.
“We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Trump said.
The probable meeting comes as U.S. investigations into the Kremlin’s alleged meddling — and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion — in the U.S. presidential election heat up. Carter Page told news outlets this weekend he met with government officials during a trip to Moscow while working as a foreign policy adviser for Trump’s campaign.
Special counsel Robert Mueller last week also filed his first charges against members of Trump’s campaign, against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
Though he never mentioned North Korea by name, Trump spoke forcefully against Pyongyang while addressing troops at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo on Sunday. He said the U.S. military is prepared to defend the nation against external threats and promised the resources and “funding they need to secure our homeland.”
“No one — no dictator, no regime and no nation — should underestimate, ever, American resolve,” he said. “We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag.”
A senior administration official told reporters in Tokyo that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is looking into the possibility of designating North Korea a state sponsor of terror. The official said a decision on that would come “very soon.”
In order for a country to receive such a designation, the State Department must first prove the country has provided support for international terror multiple times.
After speaking to troops, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted Trump at the Kasumigaseki golf club, where the two men golfed with Hideki Matsuyama, the No. 4-ranked golfer in the world. The two leaders later dined at Ginza Ukatei, where Trump told reporters the two planned to talk about North Korea and trade.
On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to travel to South Korea for a bilateral meeting with President Moon Jae-in. He will then travel to China on Wednesday to meet with President Xi Jingping.
On Friday, Trump arrives in Danang, Vietnam, for the APEC summit, where the Putin meeting is possible.
He’ll travel to the Philippines on Nov. 12 for an event honoring the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. On Friday, Trump unexpectedly announced he would extend his trip to 12 days in order to attend the East Asia Summit on Nov. 12 in Manila.
By Danielle Haynes