News Release

Obama’s Asia Trip Agenda

JOSEPH GERSON
Gerson is director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England and the author of several books. He has traveled extensively in Asia and is able to comment on various aspects of Obama’s trip as well as to put media in touch with people in various countries Obama is visiting.

Gerson said today: “After years of Bush administration neglect of Southeast Asia, during which China’s diplomatic influence grew exponentially, President Obama will seek to restore U.S. credibility as a partner and revitalize U.S. influence in this economically and strategically important part of the world.”

In Japan, Gerson said, “it will not be as easy as in years past. Yukio Hatoyama, the new prime minister, wants changes in the U.S.-Japan military alliance. Among the critical issues will be: continued Okinawan opposition to U.S. military bases there and demands for the closure of Futenma air base, containing China’s rise, reinforcing the U.S. nuclear ‘umbrella’ over Japan, dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program, and Prime Minister Hatoyama’s call for an East Asian Community that could marginalize U.S. regional influence.”

Gerson said that in China, President Obama will have to navigate the “demands of the competitive interdependence that characterizes the world’s most important bilateral relationship.” These include “U.S. and Chinese military ambitions and U.S. support for Taiwan, trade and other economic issues, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program [and] reaching an agreement on CO2 reductions…”

In Seoul, “the focus will be North Korean overtures to reopen bilateral negotiations with the U.S. and to return to the Six Party Talks, how to move the proposed U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement forward, and an appreciation from President Obama for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s unpopular decision to send more Korean troops to Afghanistan.”

In Singapore, “President Obama will participate in the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and ASEAN +1 (Association of South East Asian Nations plus the U.S.) meetings.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167