south korea

When President Trump returned this week from a 12-day, five-nation swing through Asia, he gave himself high marks for the "tremendous success of this trip."

But experts say that while he avoided major blunders during his stops in South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, the president missed more than one opportunity to offer his administration's strategic vision for the region — the world's largest, most populous and fastest growing.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated at 5 a.m. ET

President Trump said the U.S. was committed to working toward a diplomatic solution with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, but that Washington was prepared to use a "full range" of military options if necessary.

His remarks were made at a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in held in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on the second leg of Trump's five-nation tour of Asia.

During his visit to Tokyo on Monday, President Trump highlighted a dark moment in Japan's history when he met with families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents. In the 1970s, North Korea abducted at least a dozen Japanese citizens and took them to Pyongyang to train North Korean spies in Japanese language and customs. One abductee was 13.

President Trump has embarked on his longest and most ambitious foreign trip yet. Over the course of nearly two weeks, he will visit five countries in Asia, give major speeches, attend critical regional summits and meet with dozens of leaders. This would be a monumental undertaking for even the most experienced politician and White House, which Trump and his team are not.

To be fair, the president has not come into this visit cold. In large part because of North Korea, the administration has invested more time and resources in Asia than any other region.

President Trump on Monday pledged to stand by Japan against the "menace" of North Korea and said he hoped the two nations could come to a "free, fair and reciprocal" trade relationship.

President Trump kicked off his Asia tour Sunday with a warning that the U.S. will use its military might, if necessary, to fend off hostile threats.

"No one — no dictator, no regime and no nation — should underestimate, ever, American resolve," Trump told U.S. and Japanese troops, assembled inside a flag-draped aircraft hangar at the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. "We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag."

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

With news from the special counsel's probe into Russian interference in the presidential election still swirling in Washington, President Trump is leaving Friday on his longest foreign trip to date.

The Asian odyssey will take him to five countries and two international summits. Trade issues and North Korea's nuclear threat are likely to dominate the discussions. Here's a quick primer on what to watch for at each stop:

Japan

South Korea faces a chronic dirty air problem that makes it one of the most polluted countries in the world. It's common to hear that neighboring China is to blame, but a joint study by NASA and the Korean government has found there's a lot South Korea can do on its own to cut the smog.

President Trump won office promising to overturn the global trade system, which he assured voters was rigged against the United States.

And he was particularly unhappy with the five-year-old trade deal with South Korea. At the White House on June 30, he underscored that concern, saying, "The fact is that the United States has trade deficits with many, many countries and we cannot allow that to continue. And we'll start with South Korea right now."

Pages