Obama starts Asia tour to reassure commitment to region

Obama starts Asia tour to reassure commitment to region

PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. President Barack Obama has left for a tour of Asia aimed at reassuring allies of his commitment to the region, BBC News reports.

Obama will visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The White House said the trip will focus on closer economic ties, but regional security - including China's increasingly powerful presence - is likely to dominate talks.

The trip was an opportunity to reinforce the importance the U.S. placed on Asia and to re-establish ties at the leadership level, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley told the BBC.

"Many traditional allies... [also] value a strong U.S. presence in the region to balance against an assertive China," Crowley said.

Obama's visit comes amid a "period of very significant tension among American allies, and between American allies and China", he added.

Obama's trip - from April 23-29 - comes nearly seven months after he cancelled a visit to the region due to a government shutdown.

Stops include a private dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as bilateral meetings with the South Korean, Malaysian and Philippine leaders.

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