Obama arrives in Hawaii for APEC summit

US president on nine-day tour of Pacific Rim for talks with some of Washington’s most important and complicated allies.

Barack Obama, the US president, has arrived in his native Hawaii to host a weekend summit of leaders from Pacific Rim nations.

Obama was due to embark on a day of heavy diplomacy with some of Washington’s most important and complicated allies on Saturday, after arriving in his birth city of Honolulu aboard Air Force One.

The nine-day tour of the Pacific Rim – which includes countries bordering the Pacific Ocean from North and South America to Asia to Oceania – will also see Obama meeting the leaders of Japan, China and Russia.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum brings together 21 economies in an annual summit focused on economic growth, free trade and investment.

This year’s summit promises to be dominated by fears over the eurozone crisis and talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led free trade deal that knock down trade barriers across the Pacific Ocean.

After leaving Hawaii on Monday, Obama will celebrate 60 years of security ties with Australia and make the first visit by a US president to the East Asia summit, set for Bali next week.

Obama also was to meet US business leaders on Saturday to highlight the importance for interests back home of the Asia-Pacific region.

‘Pacific president’

The APEC forum accounts for 44 per cent of world trade, and US business leaders are working eagerly to boost ties with them.

“The trade that the US does with the Asia Pacific supports millions of American jobs,” Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, said ahead of Obama’s trip.

“The markets that are growing in the Asia Pacific are ones that we want to be competitive in going forward.”

Obama, who spent his boyhood years in Indonesia and has dubbed himself America’s first “Pacific president”, is also likely to press for tougher sanctions on Iran in light of new revelations on its nuclear programme.

He will seek to stress that America is at a pivot point, as it leaves Iraq this year and draws down in Afghanistan and seeks to concentrate more on East Asia, aides said.

Obama’s journey, which comes at a time when he is politically vulnerable at home, is being billed as an effort to ensure that the US remains a dominant player in Asia, a region that could dictate its economic future.

Source: News Agencies


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