WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to run for the 2024 Republican presidential election, is set to embark on a trip abroad on Saturday that will include Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom.
While the trip has been officially described as a business mission, the tour is widely seen as an attempt to burnish his foreign policy credentials in the run-up to the official announcement, which is expected in late spring or early summer.
The governor had said in March that the Ukraine war was a “territorial conflict” and that it was not of strategic importance to the United States, a position he has since partially retracted. The comments drew criticism from Democrats and many Republicans, though he shares it with about half of the party’s base as well as former Republican President Donald Trump.
Japan’s foreign ministry said DeSantis will meet in Japan with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi during his visit on April 24-25. He is then scheduled to travel to Seoul, where he will meet with Prime Minister Han Duk-soo, before heading to Tel Aviv and London, where he will speak with a mix of government and business leaders.
Back home in Florida, there are signs that he began building a foreign policy apparatus. One person familiar with the matter said his political operation is in the process of bringing in Dustin Carmack, a cybersecurity and intelligence expert with significant foreign policy experience.
DeSantis traveled to Washington earlier this week to meet with Republicans in the US House of Representatives. Shortly after his visit, several representatives from Florida endorsed Trump in a jab for the governor. DeSantis is scheduled to speak at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a major think tank, on Friday.
Additional reporting by Jim Oliphant and Gram Slattery in Washington, and Yukiko Toyoda and Tim Kelly in Tokyo
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