Obama arrives in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH: US President Barack Obama arrived in the Cambodian capital on Monday to join talks with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) and participate in the East Asia Summit.

  • Published: 19/11/2012 at 06:26 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

The newly re-elected president met Asean leaders in Phnom Penh on Monday. After a gala dinner, he was set to take part in Tuesday's East Asia Summit, where territorial disputes surrounding the South China Sea were expected to be raised.

US President Barack Obama, third from left, and Southeast Asian leaders join hands for a group photo at the Asean-US Leaders' Meeting in Phnom Penh on Monday. (Photo by EPA)

"Invariably - inevitably, the leaders will want to discuss the salient strategic and security issue facing the region, which is the issue stemming from the competing territorial claims in the South China Sea," said Danny Russel, National Security Council senior director for Asia, in a press briefing by US officials last week.

China claims most of the South China Sea, including a vital shipping lane and resource-rich areas. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei – all Asean members – also have overlapping claims in the area, as does Taiwan.

Mr Obama was also expected to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the summit margins. Tensions between Japan and China have flared up in recent weeks over a small group of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The president was also expected to broach human rights issues in talks with Hun Sen, the prime minister of Asean chair Cambodia, officials said.

Mr Obama's two-day Cambodia visit follows stops in Yangon and Bangkok. The significance of heading to Asia less than two weeks after being elected has been seen as part of a pivoting of US foreign policy towards the region. Mr Obama was due to leave Cambodia for the US on Tuesday.

Asean groups Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei.

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