The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama's Asia Trip Agenda



is director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in
New England and the author of several books. He has traveled
extensively in Asia and is able to comment on various aspects of
Obama's trip as well as to put media in touch with people in various
countries Obama is visiting.

Gerson said today: "After years of Bush administration neglect of
Southeast Asia, during which China's diplomatic influence grew
exponentially, President Obama will seek to restore U.S. credibility as
a partner and revitalize U.S. influence in this economically and
strategically important part of the world."

In Japan, Gerson said, "it will not be as easy as in years past.
Yukio Hatoyama, the new prime minister, wants changes in the U.S.-Japan
military alliance. Among the critical issues will be: continued
Okinawan opposition to U.S. military bases there and demands for the
closure of Futenma air base, containing China's rise, reinforcing the
U.S. nuclear 'umbrella' over Japan, dealing with North Korea's nuclear
program, and Prime Minister Hatoyama's call for an East Asian Community
that could marginalize U.S. regional influence."

Gerson said that in China, President Obama will have to navigate
the "demands of the competitive interdependence that characterizes the
world's most important bilateral relationship." These include "U.S. and
Chinese military ambitions and U.S. support for Taiwan, trade and other
economic issues, North Korea's nuclear weapons program [and] reaching
an agreement on CO2 reductions..."

In Seoul, "the focus will be North Korean overtures to reopen
bilateral negotiations with the U.S. and to return to the Six Party
Talks, how to move the proposed U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement
forward, and an appreciation from President Obama for South Korean
President Lee Myung-bak's unpopular decision to send more Korean troops
to Afghanistan."

In Singapore, "President Obama will participate in the APEC
(Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and ASEAN +1 (Association of South
East Asian Nations plus the U.S.) meetings."

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