Barack Obama to visit Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand
Washington: US President Barack Obama would travel to India's eastern neighbourhood – Myanmar, Burma, Cambodia and Thailand - later this month.
The announcement of the first overseas trip of the US President, days after his re-election, along with the fact that Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would also be visiting the region this month, reflects his administration's new emphasis towards the Asia Pacific area.
Obama, during his travel from November 17 to 20, would be participating in the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, besides making the historic trip to Myanmar and travelling to Thailand, the White House said.
"In Thailand, he will meet with Prime Minister Yingluck to mark 180 years of diplomatic relations and reaffirm the strength of our alliance," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"In Burma, the President will meet with President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi and speak to civil society to encourage Burma’s ongoing democratic transition," he said.
Carney said that in Cambodia, the President will attend the East Asia Summit and meet with the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"During his interactions in the region he will discuss a broad range of issues including economic prosperity and job creation through increased trade and partnerships, energy and security cooperation, human rights, shared values and other issues of regional and global concern," Carney said.
Simultaneously, the Pentagon announced that Defence Secretary Leon Panetta would be making his fourth trip to the Asia Pacific region taking him to Australia, Thailand and Cambodia. "The Secretary's visit to the region, along with that of
Secretary Clinton, reflect the commitment of the United States to the Asia-Pacific rebalance. Secretary Panetta has made this one of his highest priorities because he believes that it is the right strategy for the future security and prosperity of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
Panetta looks forward to this opportunity to further advance America’s long-term strategy of rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific, he said.
The first stop on his trip will be Perth in Australia, where he will be joined by Hillary, and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey for the annual US-Australia ministerial. This is Panetta's first trip to Australia as Secretary of Defence.
"It will provide him with an opportunity to express to the Australians his gratitude for their contribution to our efforts in Afghanistan," he said.
From Australia, Panetta will travel on to Thailand. "This will be his first visit by a Secretary of Defence to Thailand since 2008. The important US-Thailand alliance has served both our countries well for nearly 60 years, and our two governments are eager to establish a forward-looking strategic vision for this alliance that builds on our already-close cooperation," he said.
The final stop will be Cambodia, where the secretary will join 10 of his Association for Southeast Asian Defence -- ASEAN -- counterparts at their annual retreat in Siem Reap, the Pentagon official said.
"Panetta will emphasise the importance of ASEAN unity for regional stability and will communicate US support for ASEAN-led defence cooperation," Little said.