China the focus as Obama hosts SE Asian leaders

AgenceFrance-Presse . Rancho Mirage

President Barack Obama welcomed Southeast Asian leaders for a California desert retreat Monday, with talks focused on how to counterbalance China’s increasing muscle in the region.
Obama hosted representatives from 10 ASEAN countries at Sunnylands, a secluded, sprawling resort beloved by US presidents since Dwight Eisenhower.
Hoping to increase pressure on China over land grabs in the South China Sea, Obama opened the meeting by declaring a US-ASEAN ‘shared goal of building a regional order were all nations play by the same rules.’
The White House sees this summit, and the prestigious venue, as an opportunity to champion Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’ and ASEAN’s growing importance, before the president leaves the White House in January 2017.
‘As president I’ve insisted that even as the United States confronts urgent threats around the world, our foreign policy also has to seize on new opportunities, and few regions present more opportunity in the 21st century than the Asia-Pacific,’ Obama said opening the summit.
‘That is why early in my presidency I decided that the United States, as a Pacific nation, would rebalance our foreign policy and play a larger and long term role in the Asia-Pacific.’
But the more immediate aim will be to secure a united front against China’s island-building and military build-up in areas that are subject to myriad territorial claims.

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