PRESIDENT Barack Obama will be the first U.S. president to visit Laos this September, during his 11th – and most likely final – presidential trip to Asia.
During his visit, Obama is scheduled to attend a pair of regional conferences: the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.
He will also have bilateral meetings with President Bounnhang Vorachit and other officials to “advance U.S.-Lao cooperation on economic, development, and people-to-people ties, among other areas”, said the White House in a statement.
Prior to Laos, Obama will also drop by China to participate in the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou, alongside leaders from the world’s top 20 industrialized and developing nations.
According to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, while in China, Obama will focus on the importance of a level playing field and broad-based economic opportunity, reported Voice of America.
Obama plans to have separate talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as regional tensions have amplified over territorial disputes in the South China Sea and a ramping up of North Korea’s nuclear activities.
The White House said that Obama would use the Asia swing, which will run from September 2-9, to continue to promote a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal he wants to see enacted before the end of his presidential term, despite broad opposition to it.
Obama believes that the United States needs the TPP to set the standard for international trade rules, but both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump have expressed their opposition to the deal, and it’s still uncertain whether U.S. congress will approve it.
His last visit to Asia, back in May, included Vietnam and Japan, where he was the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima.
Additional reporting from Associated Press