Da Nang (Vietnam), : President Donald Trump arrived here on Friday to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
In his speech to regional leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference, Trump was heavy on history and full of praise for the countries representing the 21-member bloc, reports CNN.
“America stands as a proud member of the community of nations who make a home on the Pacific,” he said, before describing US engagement in the region, from trade ships sent to China in the 1780s to economic partnerships with Thailand and other nations.
“We have been friends, partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific for a long, long time.”
He also briefly touched on the bloody history of the Vietnam War (1955-1975), in which Da Nang was a key battlefield.
“Today we are no longer enemies, we are friends.”
He flew in from Beijing earlier in the day after an official three-day visit to China which was the third leg of his five-nation Asia tour following stops in Japan and South Korea.
Echoing points he made in China, Trump took a harsh tone on trade, vowing “we are not going to allow the United States to be taken advantage of anymore”, CNN reported.
“I am always going to put America first the same way I expect everyone in this room to put your countries first.
“I do not blame China or any other country for taking advantage of the United States on trade… They are just doing their job.”
But, he added, “we are not going to allow the United States to be taken advantage of anymore”.
Alhough his speech was dominated by trade policy, Trump did make references to the ongoing North Korea crisis.
He encouraged the international community to make sure “every single step the North Korean regime takes towards nuclear weapons is a step it takes in to greater danger”.
“The future of this region and its beautiful people must not be held hostage by a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail.”
The Summit will be attended by some 10,000 delegates, 2,000 chief executive officers of leading firms in APEC economies, and 3,000 reporters.
APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, the US, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.
After Vietnam, Trump will travel to the Philippines for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit. (IanS)