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Obama, Asean leaders discuss trade, South China Sea

Posted by pakin On February - 17 - 2016

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama gathered with leaders from Southeast Asia on Monday to strengthen trade ties and form a common stance over the South China Sea in a summit that the White House hopes will solidify US influence in the region.

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama gathered with leaders from Southeast Asia on Monday to strengthen trade ties and form a common stance over the South China Sea in a summit that the White House hopes will solidify US influence in the region.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in the meeting that finding solutions to an economic downturn, notably in the Asean region, was a priority for the US and Asean.

The two sides should open their respective economies to each other, he said.

The Asean-driven Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the US-dominated Trans Pacific Partnership could complement each other, he told the summit.

On Monday the leaders were slated to focus on economic issues, including discussion of the TPP, which includes four Asean members: Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. Others are interested in joining, and the White House wants to make sure the pact takes effect.

The US is preparing to unveil a plan to set up centres in Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta as part of an effort to help promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Asean, according to Singapore’s The Straits |Times.

Each centre – likely to be set up within the US missions in each city – will help coordinate existing US programmes and channel US business investment in the region, as well as develop new projects.

It will be part of an initiative known as Asean-US Connect that is aimed at enhancing US economic engagement in the region.

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch urged the Obama administration to object to human-rights violations in countries such as Cambodia and Thailand during the summit.

The president touched on the issue without specifics during his remarks. Thai people in the US staged their respective rallies in California in support or against Prime Minister Prayut, who seized power in 2014 in a coup.

While the pro-Prayut group expressed their gratitude to him, the anti-junta group denounced the action to topple the elected government.

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