• Obama seeks to renew Asia role with rescheduled trip

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    WASHINGTON, D.C.: United States (US) President Barack Obama will visit Asia in April to push closer ties, an aide said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), after his earlier cancellation of a trip raised questions about United States staying power.

    Susan Ricea, Obama’s national security adviser, acknowledged disappointment after the president 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 his trip next year, 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.

    He had planned stops last month 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.

    But in his second term, Obama has focused on Syria’s civil war and easing hostility with Iran. The United States has also put a priority on taming its debt after two wars and a recession.

    In the renewed regional push, Vice President Joe Biden will tour China, Japan and South Korea next month.

    Biden met Wednesday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and discussed China’s latest reforms, the White House said.

    Rice said that Secretary of State John Kerry, who has invested most of his time in the Middle East since taking office, would return to Asia in December as well.

    AFP

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