With a second term now guaranteed, President Obama is setting his sights abroad, planning a four-day tour of Southeast Asia to begin next week with stops in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.
The trip, scheduled for Nov. 17-20, will be Obama’s first foreign jaunt since attending the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, in June. The anchor of the regional visit will be the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, officials said.
While American presidents have visited Thailand – a long-standing U.S. ally – and Cambodia before, the stop in Myanmar, previously known as Burma, will be a historic first.
It caps a years-long effort by the Obama administration to encourage democratic government there and the work of Nobel laureate and human rights advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, with whom the president met in September.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cleared the way for Obama’s Myanmar visit during her stop in the country in December, the first time the top U.S. diplomat had visited in 56 years.
Obama will “encourage Burma’s ongoing democratic transition” in meeting with President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, the White House said.
He will also at the summit discuss a range of issues with Asian leaders, including job growth, trade, energy and security partnerships and human rights, officials said.
Obama has made the Asia-Pacific region the “new focus” of U.S. foreign policy since 2008, emphasizing the region’s economic potential and security alliances.