Trump to skip key summit to return earlier from Asia trip

Trump to skip key summit to return earlier from Asia trip
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President Trump will skip a major gathering of world leaders in the Philippines next month in order to return to the United States a day earlier, according to The Washington Post.

A White House spokesman told the Post that while Trump will meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and "others" during his 12-day Asia trip next month, he will not visit the city of Angeles, where leaders of more than a dozen countries are meeting for the East Asia Summit.

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The summit is scheduled for Nov. 13–14, with the majority of the major events taking place on the second day. Trump will be in Manila on Nov. 13, where he will depart the country to return to the United States.

A White House spokesman confirmed to the Post that Trump will return to the U.S. on the evening of the 13th and cautioned critics not to "read anything into" Trump's decision to skip the summit and meetings with other world leaders.

“The president’s trip to Asia is extremely lengthy and will be his longest to date — his return to the U.S. on the evening of Nov. 13 is entirely schedule-driven,” the spokesman said. “You should not read anything into his being absent on the 14th.”

Former Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell called Trump's decision to skip the summit a "big deal."

“It is a big deal. The Obama administration made a point of investing in these regional institutions in order to demonstrate we are an Asia Pacific power, a resident power in the region," said Mitchell who served under President Obama.

"This will only raise more questions about American credibility. Multilateralism in Asia is often just about showing up, but even that appears to be hard for him," Mitchell added.

Mitchell added that the timing of the East Asia Summit is frequently decided to make it convenient for U.S. leaders to attend.

“They tend to schedule [the summit] to make it easier for the United States to attend,” he added. “It’s not necessarily convenient for others. I’m sure it’s frustrating to many of our partners.”

Trump will travel to China, Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea as part of the 12-day trip. Trump previously made headlines when it was reported that he attempted to shorten his first foreign trip as president from nine to five days and "expressed dread" about the prospect of going abroad.