Obama's Asia trip underscores re-engagement strategy

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A White House official said on Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Asia next month underscores his Asia strategy of renewed engagement.

On Nov. 6, Obama will start his visit to India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

U.S. engagement in Asia is "founded upon our core alliances in the region, and of course South Korea and Japan are at the top of that list," Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, told reporters at a briefing for the visit.

He said the visit to Indonesia is meant to "deepen partnership with emerging powers," adding that Obama will deliver a speech there on his outreach effort to the Muslim world on Nov. 10.

Due to a variety of reasons, Obama had postponed visits to Indonesia for three times, which has somewhat angered the Southeast Asian country for lack of respect. In September, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not attend a summit between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in New York, citing "domestic reasons."

Even though, Rhodes stressed the importance of Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country and the biggest economy in ASEAN, saying it is the intersection of a lot of key American interests.

"We see this as a partnership that is very important to the future of American interests in Asia and the world," he said.

Obama's visit to Indonesia and his speech there is designed to continue his effort to improve America's tarnished image in the Muslim world.

Obama, since his first day in office, has been actively trying to restore U.S. engagement and influence in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia, which is more or less ignored by the previous Bush administration.

One obvious example, cited by many, is that former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice had skipped two important ASEAN meetings during the Bush term.

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