Obama to visit Asia in April for closer ties

imgUnited States President Barack Obama will visit Asia in April to push closer ties, an aide said Wednesday, after his earlier cancellation of a trip raised questions about US staying power.

Susan Rice, Obama’s adviser for national security, acknowledged disappointment after Obama called off a trip in October to negotiate with Republican lawmakers who shut down the US government to stop his health care reforms.

Rice said Obama would make up with a trip in April, saying: “Our friends in Asia deserve and will continue to get our highest-level attention.”

“No matter how many hotspots emerge elsewhere, we will continue to deepen our enduring commitment to this critical region,” Rice said in an address at Georgetown University.

Rice said US assistance to the typhoon-hit Philippines, which includes the deployment of more than 1,000 Marines, represented a “broader pledge” to all of Asia.

“America’s commitment won’t expire a few months or a few years from now. The United States of America will be there — reliable, constant, strong and steady — for the long haul,” she said.

Rice did not specify Obama’s itinerary in April. In October, he planned stops in the Philippines, Malaysia and, for international summits, Indonesia and Brunei.

Even US allies quietly voiced concern over Obama’s no-show, which offered an outsized role to Chinese President Xi Jinping at the meetings.

Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, pledged in his first term to “pivot” US foreign policy toward Asia where the regional order is being transformed by the rapid growth of China’s economy and military.

 

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