President Trump landed in Japan Sunday morning to kick off the first leg of his 12-day trip to Asia.
Trump held a surprise press gaggle with reporters during the flight from Hawaii, telling them that he was planning on meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the trip, according to a pool report.
“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” he said.
Trump and Putin met for the first time in July at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
This second meeting would come just days after the first indictments were handed down against Trump campaign staffers in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's election interference.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Richard Gates both face charges of conspiracy against the United States and money laundering related to their business with pro-Russia leaders in Ukraine. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The trip will be Trump's longest since taking office. Asked by reporters how he plans to manage the long trip abroad, he said he would let the press know if he doesn't "stay fresh."
“I’ll let you know if I don’t stay fresh. If I don’t stay fresh, you’ll be the first to tell me. I’ll stay fresh,” he said.
Trump added that he could have had a couple of shorter trips to Asia instead of the longer visit.
“We had a choice. I could have done it — I could have done a five, and a four. Or I could have done two fives. Or I could have done one 12. The one 12 was by far the best, most comprehensive and the best timing, because you have the two big conventions and conferences, right?” he said.
“So I had a choice of a 5-4 5-5, or one 12.”
One of the first events on Trump's agenda after landing was speaking at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. The president tweeted about the event shortly afterward.
Just gave a speech to the great men and women at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan. Leaving to see Prime Minister Abe. pic.twitter.com/6LRAgojvDB— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2017
Trump will spend his first day of the trip in Japan, and will go golfing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to a pool report. The two previously golfed together in February at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
Trump is visiting China, Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea as part of the trip.
Trump also told reporters Sunday that he looks "very much forward to seeing" Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Their sit-down will be one of the most-watched events of his trip to Asia, his first visit to the region as president.