Obama to travel to Asia in April

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 12, 2014 

President Obama, who had to scrap a trip to Asia last fall during the debate over the government shutdown, will head to the region in April.

The White House said Tuesday that Obama will travel to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in late April "as part of his ongoing commitment to increase U.S. diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region."

In Japan, Obama will meet with Prime Minister Abe "to highlight the historic steps the United States and Japan are taking to modernize our 54-year alliance, deepen our economic ties, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and expand our cooperation on a range of diplomatic challenges in Asia and globally," the White House said.

He'll then travel to the Republic of Korea, where he'll meet with President Park Geun-hye "to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to a strong alliance, review recent developments in North Korea and our combined efforts to promote denuclearization, and discuss our ongoing implementation of the Korea-United States FTA."

Park opened an appearance on Thursday with Secretary of State John Kerry with word of Obama's visit, saying Kerry brought with him "good tidings with regard to President Obama’s visit." She said the country welcomed the news of Obama's visit.

"I didn’t want to walk in here without that," Kerry said to laughter. He said Obama was "very excited about being able to come and visit.

"There’s a lot happening" in the region, Kerry said. "Frankly, there’s too much tension - difficult, complicated and historical issues, and a huge need for us to be able to continue to keep our alliance as strong and effective as it has been."

In Malaysia, Obama will meet with Prime Minister Najib "to showcase the substantial progress made in deepening our diplomatic, economic, and defense ties with such an important partner in Southeast Asia."

And he'll wrap up the trip with a visit to the Philippines, the fifth Asian treaty ally he will have visited during his presidency. The White House says Obama will meet with President Aquino "to highlight our economic and security cooperation, including through the modernization of our defense alliance, efforts to expand economic ties and spark economic growth through the Partnership for Growth, and through our deep and enduring people-to-people ties."

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