With the focus on cementing his legacy in the Asia-Pacific, US President Barack Obama will spend the last year of his presidency not only travelling to the region but also hosting a number of leaders from there, a top White House official has said.
“So it (Asia Pacific) will be a focus. You’ll see him (Obama) spending a lot of time on it. I think we’d like to see the successful implementation of a lot of the things we worked on.
“We will want to leave the next president with the US positioned on a much more sustained and high-level basis to be a partner in the Asia-Pacific,” said Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor.
The purpose is to leave the next American president better positioned in the Asia-Pacific, which is now one of the key strategic regions of the world.
In an interaction with foreign journalist at the WashingtonForeign Press Center, Rhodes said in February Obama will be hosting a first-of-its-kind summit with the leaders of ASEAN in Sunnylands, California.
“This demonstrates both the central focus of the Asia-Pacific to our foreign policy, but also the central focus of ASEAN in our view of the architecture of institutions and arrangements in the Asia-Pacific,” he said.
Obama would also make multiple trips to Asia, including around the G7 in Japan in May and the G20 and ASEAN summits in China and Laos in September.
Rhodes said this year one will see the President spending a lot of time in the Asia-Pacific because he believes that part of his most important legacy is going to be positioning the US in the Asia-Pacific both economically through vehicles like Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and through bilateral relationships, but politically engaging at the highest levels and shaping the international architecture in the Asia-Pacific – APEC, ASEAN, EAS, and how that is a hub for cooperation.
Responding to a question, Rhodes said America’s relationship with China has elements of both co-operation and competition.
“With China generally and then in terms of the Asia- Pacific, I think we see elements of cooperation and competition in the relationship,” he said.
“We are going to work very closely with China on a whole range of issues related to the Asia-Pacific,” he said.
“As we look to the year ahead, number one, we want to make sure that there’s a response to the recent nuclear test from North Korea and the provocation and the very real threat that it poses to our allies, South Korea and Japan, but also to the world,” he said.