East China Sea Dispute, Burma To Dominate Bali Summit


Territorial disputes over the South China Sea and democratic reforms in Burma are expected to dominate the discussion when leaders of 18 nations meet Saturday in Bali.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the East Asia Summit was the top forum for settling the region’s maritime dispute with China. But Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warned against what he called outside interference in the dispute which also involves the Philippines, Vietnam and some other Asian countries.

The two leaders will talk briefly Saturday on the sidelines of the summit in a hastily arranged meeting. Mr. Obama is also expected to meet with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The U.S. president announced Friday that he is sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Burma to see if the new nominally civilian government is committed to political and economic reforms. In a sign of acknowledgement of Burma’s moves to change, the ASEAN nations have agreed to allow it to host their next annual meeting.

Earlier Friday, President Obama met with his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The two announced a $600 million pact to support sustainable development, public health and improved public services in Indonesia. On Thursday, Indonesia signed a deal to buy from the United States 230 Boeing 737 planes, worth close to $22 billion.

The United States and Russia participate for the first time as full members in the summit that serves as a forum for the region which accounts for more than half of the world’s gross domestic product.

Mr. Obama met with leaders of the Philippines and Malaysia Friday before an East Asia Summit dinner, which he attended dressed in a traditional Indonesian clothes.

His first bilateral meeting was with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mr. Obama said both nations see the East Asia Summit as the premier arena to work together on issues ranging from maritime security and nonproliferation to expanded cooperation on disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

He arrived in Indonesia Thursday after a stop in Australia, where he signed an accord to deploy up to 2,500 U.S. troops in the country’s north to boost regional security. China promptly objected to the deal.

Mr. Obama told Australia’s parliament in Canberra that developments in the Asia-Pacific region will largely define the century ahead and that the U.S. presence there is his administration’s top priority.

Mr. Obama ends his nine-day Asian tour after the summit Saturday and leaves for Washington.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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