Open up trade, work with China, and don't forget about Southeast Asia
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Nusa Dua, Bali / Reuters
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As President Barack Obama tours Asia this week to signal U.S. commitment to the region, his final stop is in Bali, Indonesia, where he will be the first U.S. president to attend the East Asia Summit (EAS). China's growing economic and military strength has been the subtext throughout the trip as Washington announced plans to expand defense ties with Australia and pushed for a multilateral free trade deal, which excludes China. The EAS summit is likely to focus on the nuclear threat from North Korea and cooperation in the disputed South China Sea, the latter arousing concerns in Beijing, which has expressed its reluctance to discuss it at the meeting.
What's at Stake
EAS is an annual gathering of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand to promote security and prosperity in the region. With economic troubles at home, Obama sees this region, which has emerged as the economic engine of the world, as central to boosting economic growth and creating jobs.