Before embarking on his first official visit to Asia, US President Donald Trump flew to Hawaii, where he and First Lady Melania Trump visited Pearl Harbor, the site where American forces came under surprise attack from the Japanese in 1941. Trump will reach Japan on Sunday, the first stop on the five-nation, 11-day trip during which he will also visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. His tour comes at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea over its nuclear programme and missile tests. In Hawaii, the President and First Lady made a solemn visit to the USS Arizona Memorial where they tossed flower petals into the water above the battleship’s sunken hull, the US media reported.

The memorial, which is accessible only by boat, straddles the wreckage of the battleship on which more than 1,000 Navy personnel lost their lives during the attack that drew the US into World War II. More than 2,300 sailors, soldiers and Marines died as a result of the attack, as did 68 civilians, according to the National Park Service. During his stop in Hawaii, Trump was expected to meet with the US Pacific Command to discuss the escalating threat from North Korea. He was also scheduled to meet with the Governors of Alaska, Hawaii and Pacific US territories, which are all relatively close targets if North Korea opts for a missile strike against the US.

Trump’s visit will be the longest tour of Asia by a US President in 25 years. He is expected to show a united front with South Korea and Japan while pressing China to take a stronger line with Pyongyang. From Japan, the President and the First Lady will head to South Korea (November 7). Trump will visit Camp Humphreys, a US military complex south of Seoul but would not go to the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) on the border between the South and North.

After South Korea, Trump will arrive in China on November 8 where he will participate in a series of events with his counterpart Xi Jinping, the BBC reported. In Vietnam (November 10-11), Trump will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Danang and make a state visit to Hanoi. His final engagement will be a summit of South-East Asian nations in Philippine capital Manila (November 12-13). The last time a US President made such a marathon trip to Asia was when George H.W. Bush visited the region in late 1991 and early 1992.