Obama Embarks on Asia-Pacific Economic Mission

Posted November 11th, 2011 at 8:15 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is leaving Washington Friday on a nine-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region focused on boosting Washington’s ties with the growing economic power.

Mr. Obama will spend the first leg of his journey hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic forum in his birthplace of Honolulu, Hawaii. On the president’s agenda is discussion of a Pacific-wide free trade zone that includes the United States and eight nations .

Hours before Mr. Obama’s departure, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced his country will participate in talks to join the trade pact. The development could bring other regional economic powers as China into the discussions.

After a brief stop in Australia, Mr. Obama will make his second presidential trip to Indonesia, where he spent part of his boyhood. During his visit, he will become the first U.S. president to attend the East Asia Summit, which will be held on the tourist island of Bali.

Observers say the president is also using his Asia-Pacific trip to reassure allies the U.S. intends to continue to play a major role in the region, and serve as a counterweight to China’s rising status.