BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — President Barack Obama is challenging Asia Pacific nations to choose between “conflict or cooperation,” singling out North Korea’s rogue nuclear program and China’s tense territorial disputes with its neighbors as matters that could threaten progress in the fast-growing region.
Obama spoke from Australia. He arrived Saturday determined to show leaders that his weakened political standing in the U.S. would not affect efforts to deepen American engagement in the Asia Pacific, which he sees as a core part of his legacy.
In an acknowledgement of questions in the region about his commitment to that effort, Obama declared that U.S. leadership in the region will always be a “fundamental focus” of his foreign policy.
Australia is Obama’s final stop on a weeklong trip that included visits to China and Burma.