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What Did President Trump Accomplish With His Asia Trip?


President Trump heads home tomorrow after 12 days in Asia. He's tweeted that this trip has been filled with work and constant meetings. But it's not yet clear what, if anything, the president accomplished on his journey. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: For the better part of two weeks, President Trump has been in near constant motion - five countries, three international summits, more than half a dozen meetings with individual foreign leaders. By the time he sat down in Manila today with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump was beginning to take stock.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're rounding the turn for our last couple of stops. I have a couple of more today. And then tomorrow we have the conference. And then we leave at about 3 o'clock. And it's been a great 12 days.

HORSLEY: It's been 25 years since a U.S. president made such an extended journey outside the United States. The last president who tried, George H.W. Bush, was sick and exhausted by the end of the trip and threw up on the Japanese prime minister. Trump, who's 71, has tried to project an air of vitality throughout his journey. He joked today about the White House press corps which has struggled at times to keep up.


TRUMP: We'll give you a chance to sleep because the press - I have to tell you. I'm very impressed. You stayed with us. You were able to hang in there. I'm very proud of you.

HORSLEY: Trump insists it's been a fruitful trip, and there's certainly been plenty of pageantry. Asian leaders competed to see who could stage a more elaborate welcome, and Trump, with a showman's eye for spectacle, ate it up.


TRUMP: It was a red carpet like nobody I think has probably ever received, and that really is a sign of respect perhaps for me a little bit but really for our country.

HORSLEY: Beyond those pleasant memories, though, Trump may not be coming home with much. Throughout the trip, Trump urged fellow leaders to help rein in North Korea's nuclear program. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia didn't need much convincing.


PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL: We've got the same values and the same focus on ensuring that the North Korean regime comes to its senses and stops its reckless provocation.

HORSLEY: But it's China that has the most leverage over North Korea, and so far, China's president, Xi Jinping, is not making any promises. Trump also touted what he called big progress on trade. Presiding over tens of billions of dollars' worth of new commercial contracts for things like soybeans, aircraft engines and natural gas. There's no evidence Trump was successful at lowering big trade barriers, though. He told reporters to stay tuned.


TRUMP: We've made some very big steps with respect to trade, far bigger than anything you know.

HORSLEY: For most of his time abroad, the president was fairly disciplined, not straying far from his scripted remarks and tweeting more or less conventional accounts of the trip. Over the weekend, though, Trump was back tweeting about crooked Hillary and suggesting the leader of North Korea could be described as short and fat.

The Twitter outburst seemed to be sparked by controversy over Trump's conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who once again denied interfering in last year's presidential race. Trump eventually said he believes the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia did interfere, but Trump still wants to work with Putin on issues like Syria and North Korea.


TRUMP: People don't realize Russia has been very, very heavily sanctioned. They were sanctioned at a very high level. And that took place very recently. It's now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken.

HORSLEY: Trump even tweeted perhaps facetiously that he's tried to be friends with Kim Jong Un. Strange things happen in life, the president said; it's certainly a possibility. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Manila.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROY DAVIS JR. SONG, "GABRIEL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.