White House announces itinerary for Obama’s Asia trip

President Obama will meet with the leaders of four Asian nations, answer questions at a town hall-style event at a university in Malaysia and address U.S. service members in South Korea during a week-long trip that begins Tuesday, the White House announced.


President Obama arrives at a hall to deliver speech in Tokyo on Nov. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Administration officials hailed the president's visit to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines as a chance to underscore the United States's commitment to the Asia-Pacific, with an emphasis on regional allies. The trip comes after Obama missed a scheduled visit to four Asian countries in the fall, including stops at two regional summits in Southeast Asia, during the partial U.S. government shutdown.

"Unlike many of the president's overseas trips, particularly to Asia, there are no large summits involved," National Security Adviser Susan Rice said while briefing reporters on Obama's itinerary Friday. "So the agenda in each country can focus intensively on energizing our bilateral relationships and advancing the different elements of our Asia strategy."

On the trip, Obama will meet with each of the leaders of the four countries. Two of the stops -- in Japan and the Philippines -- will be official state visits, meaning Obama will attend formal dinners with Emperor Akihito in Japan and President Benigno Aquino in the Philippines.

The trip also will include tours of the Meiji shrine in Tokyo and the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, meetings with business leaders in Japan and Korea, and a look at a new electronic vehicle in the Philippines called "the Comet." Obama will lay a wreath at the national war memorial in Seoul.

The town-hall event at Malaya University will be with young leaders from 10 Southeast Asian nations, and Obama also will meet with civil-rights leaders in Malaysia, as the United States attempts to promote democratic values.

The White House had hoped to be able to announce major progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation Pacific free trade pact that stands at the core of the Obama administration's bid to ramp up U.S. economic engagement in the region. But U.S. and Japanese negotiators failed to make a breakthough during two days of talks that concluded in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

Officials said the negotiations will resume next week.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
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