Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, President Donald Trump received a classified briefing Friday from the U.S. military’s Pacific Command.
The briefing took place after Air Force One landed at Hickham Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Oahu where he and first lady Melania Trump were given a traditional Hawaiian welcome of wreaths of flowers, known as leis.
The president received a brightly colored lei made of maile and ilima flowers, a combination traditionally presented to royalty on the islands. Mrs. Trump’s white lei consisted of jasmine and rose.
President Trump then went directly to the Marine Corps installation where Pacific Command, the largest of America’s unified combat commands, is headquartered.
“You have a lot of tough people and a lot of talented people and we appreciate it,” Trump told U.S. Navy Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of Pacific Command.
“We’re all honored to have you on the island,” Harris replied before the two shook hands for the cameras and reporters were ushered out of the room.
After the briefing, Trump and his wife went to Pearl Harbor to lay a wreath at the memorial for the USS Arizona, the battleship that sank during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese naval attack that plunged the United States into World War II. The Trumps also scattered pikake petals, a variety of jasmine, into the water over the Arizona, and the president quietly said “thank you” a couple of times.
East Asia Summit
Trump, on Air Force One, said he had wanted to spend another day in Hawaii at the end of what he called this “very important trip,” but canceled that plan to stay longer in the Philippines to attend the East Asia Summit, in addition to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting.
“As citizens, we will represent you well. OK? As reporters, I don’t know,” Trump, who spoke briefly to the media on his plane, said on the 10-hour flight from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to Hawaii in the mid-Pacific.
Before Trump arrives in the Philippines, the 13-day trip will take him to Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam, his longest journey as president.
In his meetings with other leaders, the president is to tell them that the world is “running out of time” to stop North Korea’s nuclear warhead and ballistic missile development, which U.S. administration officials deem to be the biggest threat currently faced.
“The discussions will be around mainly what more we can do now to resolve this, short of war, recognizing that all of us are running out of time,” according to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. “The United States, South Korea, Japan, China are running out of time on this.”