On his first foreign trip since Tuesday’s election, US President Barack Obama is planning a historic visit to encourage reforms in Burma and he’ll also go to Thailand and Cambodia.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will also head to Asia this month. While the timing is coincidental – Obama is attending the East Asia Summit in Cambodia – experts saw a powerful sign.
“Actions speak louder than words; the visit shouts Obama’s intent for a purposeful focus on Asia in his second term,”
said Ernie Bower of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, pointing out that the trip is the first by an American president solely to South-East Asia since the Vietnam War.
Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia and took office vowing to pay more attention to South-East Asia, charging that the dynamic and mostly US-friendly region had been neglected as the administration of his predecessor George W. Bush was absorbed by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.