7 Days, 4 Countries, 5 Things to Watch As Obama Returns to Asia


5. Trail of Tragedies: Consoler-in-Chief Goes Global

One eerie nexus of all the countries Obama will visit is hard to ignore: each has recently experienced a horrific national tragedy. In 2011, a massive earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a powerful tsunami and nuclear meltdown. A powerful super typhoon last November – Typhoon Haiyan -- swept across the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people. And two ongoing disasters – the disappearance of Malaysian Air flight 370 and the capsized ferry in South Korea – have tugged on heartstrings of observers worldwide.

At this point, the president has no scheduled events related to the tragedies, administration officials say, but he will no doubt highlight U.S. humanitarian assistance in each instance.

“The United States has been able to lend prompt and very effective support to our friends and partners in support of their response,” Rice said last week. “We have demonstrated throughout … that we are there for our friends and partners when they need us most.”

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