WH: Focus on Asia-Pacific region relates to future

Updated: 2011-11-08 11:23


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WASHINGTON - The White House said on Monday that focus on the Asia-Pacific region reflects President Barack Obama's commitment to US' economic future.

Obama will host an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on Nov 12-13 with the theme of "seamless regional economy", and then move on to Bali, Indonesia for the East Asia Summit following a visit to Australia.

"I will say that broadly, the focus on the Asia-Pacific region reflects this president's commitment to this country's economic future," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"The whole rebalancing that we've talked about is very important, and the APEC summit, as well as the East Asia summit and the other elements of this trip reinforce this president's commitment to the kind of rebalancing and refocus that he has long believed is necessary," he told reporters at a regular news briefing.

"And it goes right on the economic front to our - his goal, rather - to double our exports and increase our trade, specifically with the countries in the Asia-Pacific region," he said. "So, broadly speaking, our goals for the trip have everything to do with that economic part of our relationship with the region, although there are many other elements as well."

For much of the year, the Obama administration has been preoccupied with events unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa, including getting involved in military mission in Libya which eventually removed Muammar Gadhafi from power.

US foreign policy needs to transition from the Middle East to Asia, Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said in August.

"One of the most important challenges for US foreign policy is to effect a transition from the immediate and vexing challenges of the Middle East to the long-term and deeply consequential issues in Asia," Campbell said then.

"The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote this month in the Foreign Policy magazine.

"Harnessing Asia's growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama," she observed.