Obama's PH visit pushing through this April
MANILA, Philippines – After a postponement last October due to the US government shutdown, US President Barack Obamas's trip to the Philippines will finally push through this April, the White House announced Wednesday, February 12.
Obama's trip will bring him to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and is scheduled "late April," the White House said in a statement, without yet releasing an exact date.
In the Philippines, Obama is scheduled to meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and will discuss economic and security concerns.
"He will meet with President Aquino to highlight our economic and security cooperation, including the modernization of our defense alliance, efforts to expand economic ties and spark economic growth through the Partnership for Growth, and through our deep and enduring people-to-people ties," the statement said.
The Philippines is the 5th Asian treaty ally he will visit during his presidency, the White House added.
The Philippines will be his last stop in the trip. He will first go to Japan, then South Korea, and Malaysia.
In Japan, he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to "highlight the historic steps the United States and Japan are taking to modernize" the two nations' 54-year alliance.
In South Korea, he will meet with President Park Geun-Hye, and the two leaders will discuss North Korea and the implementation of the free trade agreement between the two countries.
Lastly, the Malaysia stop, where he is set to meet with Prime Minister Najib Razak, is intended to "showcase the substantial progress made in deepening our diplomatic, economic, and defense ties."
The trip is "part of his ongoing commitment to increase U.S. diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region," the statement said.
Making up for cancelled trip
Obama was scheduled to visit the Philippines back in October, part of a 4-country Southeast Asia trip that was connected to the summits of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
It was supposed to take him to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the White House said in its announcement in September.
However, it was cancelled due to the US government shutdown, and Obama sent US Secretary of State John Kerry instead so he can deal with the pressing domestic issue. Kerry, however, was also unable to make it to the Philippines, due to Typhoon Nari (PAGASA codename Santi).
The US Secretary of State later made the trip last December, during which he toured the areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan (PAGASA codename Yolanda). Kerry, during his visit, pledged additional aid for the disaster-stricken area's recovery and rehabilitation.
In November, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the US President will make another Asian trip in April 2014, but without specifying what countries will be part of the itinerary.
The cancellation of his October trip raised questions about the United States' commitment to Asia, at a time when the world's lone superpower pledged a renewed focus on the critical region. It also gave an opportunity for China to be in the spotlight at the two regional summits.
It will be the 8th visit of an American president to the Philippines. Obama will be the 7th US leader to visit the country, based on US State Department data.
It will also be Obama’s first-ever visit to the Southeast Asian nation. Born in Hawaii, the American president lived in nearby Indonesia as a child. – Rappler.com