U.S. President Barack Obama will press leaders from Southeast Asia to boost trade and back a common stance on the South China Sea during a summit starting on Monday that the White House hopes will solidify U.S. influence in the region.
Obama will also discuss efforts to curb North Korea and to fight Islamic State militants during the two-day meeting with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at Sunnylands, a California resort.
The meeting, at the same location where Obama once hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, is designed to demonstrate Washington’s commitment both as a counterweight to Beijing and as an eager trading partner with ASEAN nations.
It also helps cement a legacy issue for Obama, who has championed a trade and foreign policy pivot to Asia during his presidency and is determined to present the United States as a Pacific power.
“We want to make very clear that the United States is going to be at the table and a part of setting the agenda in the Asia- Pacific in the decades to come,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters last week.
Goals of the two-day gathering include increasing commercial ties, which will be underscored by the presence of a handful of U.S. corporate executives; cooperating on counter-terrorism; and setting principles for maritime security in the region, the White House said. Read more