Obama to visit four Asian countries in April

Updated: 2014-02-13 04:26


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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama will visit Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in late April, the White House said on Wednesday.

The upcoming trip is part of the president's "ongoing commitment to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region," spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

Obama had to cancel a scheduled trip to Asia in October due to a 16-day government shutdown caused by a budget impasse in Congress, a travel that would have taken him to Bali, Indonesia for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, and to Brunei for an ASEAN-US summit and an East Asia summit. His absence has raised questions about Washington's commitment to its rebalance to the region.

In a November speech on US policy toward Asia, Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, announced that the president had rescheduled his trip for April.

"Rebalancing toward the Asia Pacific remains a cornerstone of the Obama administration's foreign policy," Rice declared then. " No matter how many hotspots emerge elsewhere, we will continue to deepen our enduring commitment to this critical region."

In Japan, Obama will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to highlight "the historic steps" their countries are taking to modernize their 54-year-old alliance, deepen bilateral economic ties, and expand cooperation "on a range of diplomatic challenges" in Asia and around the world, Carney said.

Recent developments in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and efforts to promote its denuclearization will dominate Obama's talks with his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye, Carney noted.

While in Malaysia, the president will meet with Prime Minister Najib Razak to highlight "substantial progress" made in deepening bilateral diplomatic, economic and defense ties, said the spokesman.

He said Obama will discuss economic and security cooperation with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was heading for Asia Wednesday for his fifth trip since taking office in February 2013, with stops in the Republic of Korea, China, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

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