WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump will visit South Korea as part of a trip to Asia in November, the White House announced Friday.
It will be Trump's first visit to the region since he took office in January, and will include trips to Japan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Hawaii from Nov. 3-14.
Security is expected to top the agenda as tensions run high over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Trade is also likely to be a key focus as the Trump administration seeks to address what it sees as trade imbalances with countries like South Korea and China.
"President Trump will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America's prosperity and security. He will also emphasize the importance of fair and reciprocal economic ties with America's trade partners," the White House said in a statement.
"The President's engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
The North Korean nuclear issue has lately been highlighted by a tit-for-tat war of words between the American president and the North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong-un.
Trump has called Kim "Little Rocket Man" and threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea should it attack the US or its allies. Kim, in turn, has called Trump a "mentally deranged US.
dotard" and warned of the "highest level of hardline countermeasure in history."
On Monday, Pyongyang's foreign minister claimed Trump declared war on his country by tweeting that the minister and Kim "won't be around much longer."
Besides the rhetoric, Washington has stepped up economic pressure on Pyongyang, which it hopes will force the regime to come to negotiations on a dismantlement of its weapons programs.
In line with an executive order signed by Trump last week, the Treasury Department on Tuesday announced new sanctions on eight North Korean banks and 26 North Koreans living abroad.
South Korea has hailed the US efforts while emphasizing that there can be no war on the peninsula.
The allies are also seeking to deploy more US strategic assets to the peninsula to deter North Korean provocations and accelerate the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean troops from Washington to Seoul.
Trump last met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last week.
He made clear then that the South Korea-US free trade agreement has been "so good" for the Asian ally but "so bad" for his own country.
Negotiations have been under way to address US demands for an amendment to the five-year-old deal.
The White House said first lady Melania Trump will accompany the president on the trip, which is to include his attendance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in the Philippines. (Yonhap)