(From Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama will press leaders from Southeast Asia to boost trade and back a common stance on the South China Sea during a summit starting on Monday that the White House hopes will solidify U.S. influence in the region.

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Illinois General Assembly during a visit to Springfield, Ill. on Feb. 10

Obama will also discuss efforts to curb North Korea and to fight Islamic State militants during the two-day meeting with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at Sunnylands, a California resort.

The meeting, at the same location where Obama once hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping, is designed to demonstrate Washington’s commitment both as a counterweight to Beijing and as an eager trading partner with ASEAN nations.

It also helps cement a legacy issue for Obama, who has championed a trade and foreign policy pivot to Asia during his presidency and is determined to present the United States as a Pacific power.

“We want to make very clear that the United States is going to be at the table and a part of setting the agenda in the Asia- Pacific in the decades to come,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters last week.

Goals of the two-day gathering include increasing commercial ties, which will be underscored by the presence of a handful of U.S. corporate executives; cooperating on counter-terrorism; and setting principles for maritime security in the region, the White House said. Read more

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