CHARLESTON, S.C. — President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Asia will provide needed assurances amid ongoing concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, a South Carolina congressman who recently returned from his own trip to the area said Thursday.

“Obviously, with the threats from Kim Jong Un, they want to have reassurance of America’s commitment,” U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson said during a phone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. “I just think it’s so reassuring that the president will be there.”

Wilson recently returned from a trip to Asia, where he led a delegation to countries including South Korea and Japan. He spoke with AP a day before Trump was set to leave for a trip that includes visits to those countries, plus China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Trump’s trip comes amid escalating tensions and rhetoric with North Korea, which has continued to pursue its missile and nuclear programs and ramped up its missile testing. In a recent speech at the United Nations, Trump said he would “totally destroy” the nation, if necessary. He has also derided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “little Rocket Man.” Kim has returned the favor, calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”

During his trip, Trump is scheduled to attend several summits and spend time golfing with Japanese President Shinzo Abe. It’s connections like that one, Wilson said, that could become even more vital if North Korea followed through on its threats.

“President Trump has a very warm relationship with Abe,” Wilson said. “It couldn’t be a better time for the president to meet with his friend.”


Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard