By Maya Rhodan
May 10, 2016

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday defended President Obama’s upcoming trip to Hiroshima, Japan, and said the President will not apologize for the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

Some historians have argued an apology is overdue. But at Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Earnest said that while the U.S. bears a “special responsibility to lead the world in the effort to eliminate” nuclear weapons, Obama’s trip will not include one.

“This is a question historians have considered. It’s a legitimate line of inquiry,” Earnest said. “The President intends to visit to send a much more forward looking signal for his ambition of realizing the goal of a planet without nuclear weapons.”

Earnest’s comments align with statements made by other administration officials on Tuesday. In a Medium post announcing the visit, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote that the President would “offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future” during that visit rather than “revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II.”

Obama will travel to Japan and Vietnam later this month, making his historic visit to Hiroshima on May 27. Though Secretary of State John Kerry has visited the city, Obama will be the first sitting president to travel there.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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