By Jueseppi B.
4/18/14: White House Press Briefing: Presidents Upcoming Trip To Asia.
Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Asia in April
The President will travel to Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines in late April as part of his ongoing commitment to increase U.S. diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
In Japan, the President will meet with Prime Minister Abe to highlight the historic steps the United States and Japan are taking to modernize our 54-year alliance, deepen our economic ties, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and expand our cooperation on a range of diplomatic challenges in Asia and globally.
The President will then travel to the Republic of Korea, where he will meet with President Park to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to a strong alliance, review recent developments in North Korea and our combined efforts to promote denuclearization, and discuss our ongoing implementation of the Korea-United States FTA.
In Malaysia, the President will meet with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia to showcase the substantial progress made in deepening our diplomatic, economic, and defense ties with such an important partner in Southeast Asia.
The President will then travel to the Philippines, the fifth Asian treaty ally he will have visited during his presidency. He will meet with President Aquino to highlight our economic and security cooperation, including through the modernization of our defense alliance, efforts to expand economic ties and spark economic growth through the Partnership for Growth, and through our deep and enduring people-to-people ties.
Schedule for the Week of April 21 – 25, 2014
On Tuesday, the President will travel to Oso, Washington, to view the devastation from the recent mudslide and to meet with families affected by this disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers. Following his visit to Oso, Washington, the President will travel to Tokyo, Japan.
On Wednesday night, the President will arrive in Tokyo, Japan and remain overnight.
On Thursday, the President will hold a state call withEmperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace. Later in the morning, the President will participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at the Akasaka Palace. In the afternoon, the President will visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation to tour and deliver remarks at a youth and science event with students. Later in the afternoon, the President will visit the Meiji Shrine and host a roundtable meeting with Select USA business leaders. In the evening the President will attend the Japanese State dinner at the Imperial Palace with the Imperial family. The President will remain overnight in Japan.
On Friday morning, the President will meet with employees and family members of the U.S. Embassy to Japan. He will then travel to the Republic of Korea. In the afternoon, the President will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial to honor fallen soldiers. Following the ceremony, he will tour the Gyeongbok Palace. Later in the afternoon, the President will visit the Blue House to participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with President Park of the Republic of Korea . In the evening the President will join President Park for a working dinner and remain overnight in Seoul, South Korea.
On Saturday morning, the President will participate in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy. Following the roundtable, the President will travel to Yongsan Garrison. Here, he will be briefed by U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command officers and deliver remarks and visit with troops and their families to thank them for their extraordinary service to our nation. In the afternoon, the President will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the evening, he will join King Abdul Halim and Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia for the State dinner at the Istana Negara Palace. The President will remain overnight in Malaysia.
On Sunday, the President will visit the National Mosque of Malaysia. Following his visit, he will participate in a bilateral meeting and working lunch followed by a joint press conference with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia at the Prime Minister’s Office. In the afternoon, the President and Prime Minister will take part in an event at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center. In the evening, the President will travel to Malaya University to participate in a town hall with participants in the YoungSoutheast Asian Leaders Initiative. The President will remain overnight in Malaysia.
On Monday, The President will leave for The Philippines in the morning. The President will have a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with President Benigno Aquino. Later that evening The President will attend a State Dinner hosted by President Benigno Aquino.
On Tuesday, The President will view an electric vehicle in The Philippines called “The Comet.” The President will visit Fort Bonifacio, where he will deliver remarks to U.S. and Filipino service members and veterans. The President will lay a wreath at The American Cemetery. Later in the evening The President will return to Washington, D.C.
White House Announces Itinerary For President Obama’s Asia trip
President Obama will meet with the leaders of four Asian nations, answer questions at a town hall-style event at a university in Malaysia and address U.S. service members in South Korea during a week-long trip that begins Tuesday, the White House announced.
Administration officials hailed the president’s visit to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines as a chance to underscore the United States’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific, with an emphasis on regional allies. The trip comes after Obama missed a scheduled visit to four Asian countries in the fall, including stops at two regional summits in Southeast Asia, during the partial U.S. government shutdown.
“Unlike many of the president’s overseas trips, particularly to Asia, there are no large summits involved,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice said while briefing reporters on Obama’s itinerary Friday. “So the agenda in each country can focus intensively on energizing our bilateral relationships and advancing the different elements of our Asia strategy.”
On the trip, Obama will meet with each of the leaders of the four countries. Two of the stops — in Japan and the Philippines — will be official state visits, meaning Obama will attend formal dinners with Emperor Akihito in Japan and President Benigno Aquino in the Philippines.
The trip also will include tours of the Meiji shrine in Tokyo and the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, meetings with business leaders in Japan and Korea, and a look at a new electronic vehicle in the Philippines called “the Comet.” Obama will lay a wreath at the national war memorial in Seoul.
The town-hall event at Malaya University will be with young leaders from 10 Southeast Asian nations, and Obama also will meet with civil-rights leaders in Malaysia, as the United States attempts to promote democratic values.
The White House had hoped to be able to announce major progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation Pacific free trade pact that stands at the core of the Obama administration’s bid to ramp up U.S. economic engagement in the region. But U.S. and Japanese negotiators failed to make a breakthough during two days of talks that concluded in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
Obama-Abe summit to aid trade talks, not seal deal: U.S. official
By Krista Hughes and Kaori Kaneko
WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Next week’s meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a good opportunity to give impetus to Pacific trade negotiations but will not seal a deal, a senior U.S. administration official said on Friday.
Talks between the United States and Japan seen as vital to a broader regional trade pact had narrowed to a few critical areas and will resume again on Monday, officials of both countries said, as negotiators hustle to prepare for Thursday’s summit.
Breaking a U.S.-Japan deadlock over access to Japan’s farm and auto markets is seen as key to finalising the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation trade bloc that would stretch from Asia to Latin America.
The TPP is central to Obama’s policy of expanding America’s presence in Asia and Abe, for his part, has touted the TPP as a main element of his strategy to reform the world’s third-largest economy and generate sustainable growth.
When the leaders meet, they are likely to review progress so far on the trade talks and give some impetus to negotiators to move on to the next stage, the senior official said.
But they would not get into the details of tariffs on sensitive products such as beef, pork, rice and sugar, and would not conclude an agreement, he said, adding the talks were part of an ongoing effort to agree an ambitious, comprehensive deal.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari wound up a 20-hour negotiating session earlier on Friday with major gaps still on display.
“We still have big differences,” Amari told reporters in Washington before he left for Tokyo, according to Kyodo news agency, although he said “the gaps are getting smaller.”
The USTR said in a statement: “We continue to make progress, and we are now faced with a reasonable number of outstanding issues. These issues are important to both sides and considerable differences remain.”
Sticking points from the U.S. perspective revolve in equal measure around access to Japan’s markets for agricultural products as well as peeling away at layers of Japanese regulations that serve to block automotive imports, the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Discussions will continue in the days and weeks ahead, but there is no particular deadline for concluding the talks, the official added. Momentum behind the talks need not stall because negotiators have not struck a deal ahead of Obama’s visit to Japan, the official said.
Some experts say U.S. negotiators are at a disadvantage because the White House does not have authority to fast track agreements through Congress, given opposition by senior Democrats to a bill laying the groundwork for a yes-or-no vote by lawmakers ahead of elections in November.
TPP negotiators are due to reconvene in Vietnam in mid-May and trade ministers will meet at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation event in China that same month.
The senior U.S. official said that even when a final agreement is reached, it would still take several months of work to translate that into a legal document which could be submitted to lawmakers for approval.
USTR confirmed bilateral talks would resume between U.S. Acting Deputy United States Trade Representative Wendy Cutler and Japanese Deputy Chief Negotiator Hiroshi Oe in Tokyo on Monday. Froman will travel to Tokyo with Obama later in the week.
The United States wants Japan to open its rice, beef and pork, dairy, and sugar markets – politically powerful sectors that Abe has vowed to defend. Japan wants a timetable on U.S. promises to drop tariffs of 2.5 percent on imports of passenger cars and 25 percent on light trucks.
Japanese media have reported that the United States, which has been pushing Japan to scrap its tariffs, is willing to let Japan keep import levies on rice, wheat and sugar while it will create a mechanism to boost its imports of U.S. rice.
Gaps remain over the size of cuts in tariffs on beef and over pork as well, the media said.
Japanese officials have been hoping that a two-way trade deal with Australia clinched this month, which allowed it to keep reduced tariffs on beef, would pressure the United States to make similar concessions.
(Aditional reporting and writing by Mark Felsenthal in Washington and Linda Sieg in Tokyo; Editing by Dominic Lau, Robert Birsel, Marguerita Choy, Jonathan Oatis and Eric Walsh)