Obama to forge new partnership with Asian countries

As US President Barack Obama gets ready to leave Washington on a four-nation maiden sojourn to Asia, top administration official on Tuesday said these are attempts to renew America`s alliance in the region.

Washington: As US President Barack Obama gets ready to leave Washington on a four-nation maiden sojourn to Asia and then hosts Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his First State Dinner, top administration official on Tuesday said these are attempts to renew America`s alliance in the region.

"This is the fastest growing economic region in the world. It supports an extraordinary amount of US trade and jobs. It is also home to very critical political relationships to the US in our efforts to combat a series of global challenges," said Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.

"So the President looks forward to this attempt to really renew America`s alliances in the region, to continue to forge new partnerships, and to make progress on a whole series of issues," he told reporters during a teleconference briefing Obama`s first four-nation Asia trip beginning on Thursday.

Obama is scheduled to travel to Japan, Singapore, North Korea and Beijing during his week-long trip to Asia – wherein he would be holding a series of meetings with Asian leaders.

The issues to dominate the agenda, Rhodes said, range from economic recovery agenda; Afghanistan, which are supported by several of its Asian partners; US efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, including its continued efforts in relation to North Korea and Iran; and also its effort to make progress on clean energy and combating climate change.

"So, there`s a broad agenda that overlays the President`s whole trip. I think the overarching theme is that America is a Pacific nation, it understands the importance of
Asia in the 21st century, and it`s going to be very engaged in a very comprehensive way to make progress on a whole series of issues that are critical for our prosperity and our security," Rhodes said.

Obama would leave Washington on November 12 and after a brief stopover in Alaska, he would arrive in Japan on November 13. During his two-day stay in Japan, Obama would be meeting the Japanese Prime Minister and the Emperor, besides delivering a speech at Suntory hall in Tokyo.

"In this speech he`ll have an opportunity to discuss his view of American engagement in Asia as it relates to the political, security and economic dimensions, and to also reaffirm the strength of the US-Japanese alliance," Rhodes said.

Next day, Obama has a series of meetings lined up in Singapore. Prominent among them include bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of Singapore, and Presidents of Indonesia and Russia; attending the meeting of the APEC Summit, and having a multilateral meeting with leaders of ASEAN countries.

Rhodes said Obama in his meeting with the Russian counterpart is looking forward to continue their dialogue on issues related to non-proliferation, global economic recovery, and a whole host of bilateral issues.

From Singapore, Obama would move to Sanghai, with Beijing being his next destination.

In his meeting with the Chinese counterpart, Obama looks forward to addressing a very broad agenda, Rhodes said. "The President looks forward to building on the strong, positive, and comprehensive relationship that has been forged at -- particularly through venues such as the strategic and economic dialogue that we held earlier this year in
Washington," he said.

South Korea is scheduled to be Obama`s final destination, before returning to the US on November 19. "China is an essential player on the global issues that are a part of our agenda: global economic recovery, which Mike will talk about; climate change; energy; North Korea; Iran; non-proliferation issues generally; success in Afghanistan and Pakistan; arms controls," said Jesfrey Bader, National Security Council Senior Director for East Asia.

"On none of these issues can we succeed without China`s cooperation. So we don`t see this relationship as a zero-sum one. We see it as a relationship where we`re obviously going to have differences, where we are going to be competitors in certain respects. But we want to maximise areas where we can work together because the global challenges will simply not be met if we don`t," Bader said.

"One of the messages that the President will be sending in his visit is that we are an Asia Pacific nation and we are there for the long haul," he said.

Bureau Report