Air Force One landed around 10:38 a.m. local time in Tokyo, following an eight-hour flight from Hawaii. Among Trump's plans for the day were events with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, including a round of golf, and meeting U.S. troops at the U.S. Yokota Air Base.
About six-and-a-half hours into the flight to Japan, Trump walked back into the press cabin and spoke for just under 12 minutes.
During that exchange, Trump strongly suggested that meeting with Putin would happen during a regional summit in Vietnam.
“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," Trump told reporters.
The comment is somewhat optimistic when compared to what Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin said on Saturday. “There is no cooperation so far,” Peskov told reporters on Saturday about the North Korean issue. “Only periodic exchanges of views.”
The U.S. has been integral in pushing the international community to issue sanctions on the North Korean regime to pressure Pyongyang to lay of its nuclear and missile programs, despite resistance from the Russians and the Chinese, who would like to see the U.S. lessen tension in the region instead by reducing its military presence.
Trump spoke highly of North Koreans as a people who persevere under the oppressive regime of dictator Kim Jong Un.
“I think they’re great people. They’re industrious. They’re warm, much warmer than the world really knows or understands. They’re great people. And I hope it all works out for everybody," Trump said. The president will visit South Korea during the Asia tour, but Trump has no plans to visit the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, a White House official said this week.
Trump's indication of a possible meeting with Putin also comes as the federal inquiry into Russian interference at home, headed by special counsel Robert Mueller, has heated up. Just this week former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his former associate, Rick Gates, were indicted for charges including conspiracy against the U.S. for work before the 2016 campaign in favor of Russia-backed leaders in Ukraine. It was also revealed that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian nationals.
During his wide-ranging chat with reporters, during which he went off the record twice, Trump touted a burgeoning U.S. economy and brushed off criticism he received Saturday from his predecessors George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush. In a reveal of an upcoming book, the elder push was quoted as calling Trump "a blowhard," while George W. Bush expressed his concern over being "the last Republican president.”
“I don’t need headlines. I don’t want to make their move successful," Trump said in response to their criticism.
Trump also addressed a tweet he sent out on Saturday in which he urged Saudi Arabia to list the shares of its largest oil company, Aramco, in the New York Stock Exchange.
“I know they’re looking at London, I know they’re looking at others, they’re probably looking at themselves, they have a much smaller stock market. So I would like them to consider the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ," he told reporters.
The trip Trump is embarking on is the longest a president has taken in Asia in decades, and includes an extra day than was originally planned as Trump is now expected to attend the East Asia Summit in the Philippines after receiving pushback for initially not planning to attend.
Asked how he will stay fresh during the 13-day journey, Trump replied with a touch of whimsy.
"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," Trump said.