Fiscal talks under way, Obama heads to SE Asia
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is darting off to South-east Asia to showcase a foreign policy achievement and reinforce the United States (US) role as a counterweight to China.
Mr Obama leaves on Saturday for a four-day trip to Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, his first trip abroad since June and his fourth to Asia, where he has been eager to expand the US footprint. It's a brief break from dicey fiscal negotiations and a national security sex scandal that are competing with the glow of his re-election.
Freed from the constraints of campaigning, Mr Obama is quickly re-establishing his foreign policy credentials by being the first US president to visit Myanmar, also known as Burma, which was internationally shunned for decades and is now hailed for its steps toward democratisation.
Mr Obama is also attending the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, eager to secure the US's place as a major player in a region that long has operated under China's influence.