WASHINGTON Feb 12 President Barack Obama on
Wednesday announced he will visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia
and the Philippines in April, six months after a scrapped tour
of the region raised questions about his commitment to an
increasingly influential region of the world.
Obama is due to meet with the leaders of all four nations,
and plans to address diplomatic, economic and security issues,
the White House said. In early October he shelved plans to visit
Malaysia and the Philippines and attend regional summits in
Indonesia and Brunei because of a U.S. government shutdown.
Political analysts said at the time that while the
cancellation was understandable given events in the United
States, it projected an unflattering image of the United States
as politically and economically volatile and ceded the
international stage to China.
Obama in 2012 declared a "pivot" to Asia, signaling that the
United States would shift some of its focus from Europe and the
Middle East to a region whose importance in world affairs has
surged in the last decade. The United States hopes to build
closer economic and military ties with Asian countries and keep
pace with China's growing influence.
The U.S. leader postponed visits to Indonesia and Australia
because of domestic politics and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in
2010, and missed an Asia Pacific summit in Russia in 2012
because of the Democratic Party convention.
In Japan, Obama plans to discuss the Trans-Pacific
Partnership trade agreement, among other issues, with Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, the White House said. In South Korea, the
president aims to speak about recent developments in North Korea
with President Park Geun-hye, among other topics, the White