Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is set to begin a trip abroad on Saturday taking him through Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
While some details of the trip are unclear and it is officially billed as a trade mission, the tour is widely seen as an attempt to burnish his foreign policy credentials in the lead-up to an official announcement, expected in the late spring or early summer.
The governor had said in March that the Ukraine War is a “territorial dispute” and that it is not of strategic interest to the United States, a position he has since partially walked back. Those comments provoked criticism from Democrats and many Republicans, though it is a stance he shares with about half of the party’s base as well as Republican former President Donald Trump.
In Japan, DeSantis is expected to meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, said two other people, who requested anonymity to discuss private matters. He is also slated to travel to Seoul, Tel Aviv and London in that order.
Back home in Florida, there are signs he is beginning to build out a foreign policy apparatus. His political operation is in the process of bringing on Dustin Carmack, a cybersecurity and intelligence expert with significant foreign policy experience, said one of the people.
DeSantis traveled to Washington earlier this week to meet with Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Shortly after his visit, several representatives from Florida endorsed Trump in a blow to the governor. DeSantis is set to address an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a major think tank, on Friday.