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Obama to visit Burma on Southeast Asia swing

Fresh off his reelection victory, Barack Obama is about to put his personal stamp on his administration’s "pivot" to Asia. The president will resume his international travel schedule next week and visit Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, where he will attend the East Asia Summit and the annual meeting of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations ...

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

Fresh off his reelection victory, Barack Obama is about to put his personal stamp on his administration's "pivot" to Asia.

The president will resume his international travel schedule next week and visit Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, where he will attend the East Asia Summit and the annual meeting of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced the trip, which will be from Nov. 17 to 20. In Thailand, Obama will meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. In Burma, he will meet with President Thein Sein and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Fresh off his reelection victory, Barack Obama is about to put his personal stamp on his administration’s "pivot" to Asia.

The president will resume his international travel schedule next week and visit Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia, where he will attend the East Asia Summit and the annual meeting of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced the trip, which will be from Nov. 17 to 20. In Thailand, Obama will meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. In Burma, he will meet with President Thein Sein and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

"During his interactions in the region he will discuss a broad range of issues including economic prosperity and job creation through increased trade and partnerships, energy and security cooperation, human rights, shared values, and other issues of regional and global concern," Carney said.

Obama became the first U.S. president to join the East Asia Summit last year and he also attended the annual ASEAN conference when he traveled to Bali, Indonesia, for both events. A greater U.S. presence in Asian multilateral organizations is a pillar of the administration’s rebalancing strategy toward Asia.

But when Obama made a round of calls to world leaders today to thank them for their congratulations following his reelection, no East Asian officials were on that list. Egypt’s new leader got a call, but not the prime minister of Japan, long one of America’s closest Pacific allies.

Obama spoke with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, President Mohammed Morsy of Egypt, President François Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom.

That list includes four out of five of Obama’s self-identified world leader buddies. The fifth, outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, did not get a call today.

"In each call, he thanked his counterpart for their friendship and partnership thus far and expressed his desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead," Carney said.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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