White House puts economics as focus of Asia trip, but regional security concerns also an issue

Associated Press + More

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is focusing President Barack Obama's upcoming Asia-Pacific trip on the economic benefits of closer ties to the region.

But tensions between Russia and Ukraine will likely push regional security concerns higher on the president's agenda.

Some of the countries Obama is visiting are eyeing the developments in Eastern Europe through the lens of their own sea and air disputes with China. The leaders of Japan and South Korea will want Obama's reassurance that the U.S. will back them up.

Obama also doesn't have much to offer his hosts. Negotiations continue indefinitely on a Pacificwide, free-trade deal among the U.S. and 11 other countries.

The administration had wanted those talks to wrap up by the end of last year.

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