Obama has freer hand to deal with world problems



AGENCIES

Published — Saturday 10 November 2012

Last update 11 November 2012 3:25 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

WASHINGTON/YANGON: President Barack Obama now has a freer hand to deal with a world of familiar problems in new ways. That could mean tougher Iran and Syria policies, or new engagement toward countries such as Cuba and North Korea. He could also refocus on the moribund Middle East peace efforts.
Officials said the first tweaks in Obama’s Iran policy could come within weeks.
But a pressing task is assigning a new national security team. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced her plans to retire and could stay a few weeks past January to help the administration as it reshuffles personnel. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is likely to depart soon after her. CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus is expected to stay on.
The president will become the first US leader to visit Myanmar this month, the strongest international endorsement of the fragile democratic transition in the Southeast Asian country after half a century of military rule.
Obama will travel to Myanmar during a Nov. 17-20 tour of Southeast Asia that will also take in Thailand and Cambodia, the White House said on Thursday, confirming his first international trip since he won a second term in Tuesday’s election.
He is going ahead with the trip despite recent sectarian violence in western Myanmar that has drawn concern from the United States and European Union.
UN human rights investigators have criticized the quasi-civilian government’s handling of the strife between Buddhists and minority Muslims, and some Myanmar exiles see Obama’s trip as premature before political reforms have been consolidated.
The visit to Myanmar, the first by a sitting US president, will give Obama a chance to meet President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to encourage the “ongoing democratic transition”, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Obama’s presence in Myanmar, also known as Burma, will highlight what his administration sees as a first-term foreign policy achievement and a development that could help counter China’s influence in a strategically important region. At least 89 people were killed in the recent clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and minority Muslim Rohingyas. Many thousands more have been displaced by the violence.
The US Campaign for Burma, an exile group, said Obama’s trip could “undermine the democracy activists and ethnic minorities”, but added that if the president was intent on going, he should broaden his agenda to include meetings with the still-powerful military and an address to parliament.
A senior administration official said Obama, who will also speak to civil society groups, was “acutely aware” of concerns about human rights, ethnic violence and political prisoners in Myanmar and would address those issues during his visit.
In November 2011, Hillary Clinton became the first US secretary of state to visit Myanmar in more than 50 years.
Obama has sought to consolidate ties and reinforce US influence across Asia in what has been dubbed a policy “pivot” toward the region as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down.
In Beijing, a senior Chinese official from a border province said China saw no threat to its interests from Obama’s visit.
“We understand and support the wish of the Myanmar authorities wanting to open up and become part of the world,” Qin Guangrong, Communist Party chief in Yunnan province, told reporters on the sidelines of a party congress.
Obama met Suu Kyi, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, on her visit to the United States in September. Thein Sein was also in the United States to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York but the two leaders did not meet.
US Democratic Representative Joe Crowley, who is active on Myanmar issues, said Obama’s trip could be “the most significant step” in support of democracy there.
Obama will be in Southeast Asia to attend meetings in Cambodia centered on an annual summit of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is usually extended to take in leaders of partner countries.
The heads of government of China, Japan, Russia and other countries are also expected in Cambodia for the meetings.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Huge projects change the faces of cities and great ambitions help create such projects. Madinah had its date with a quantum leap to usher in a new era of urban development. Such huge projects help achieve formidable civilization advancements and sign...
RIYADH: The Japanese ambassador to the Kingdom, Noriheiro Okoda, has held a meeting with Hashem Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), and discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of atom...
AL-BAHA: Forty three percent of Al-Baha cannot be developed easily because of the region’s mountainous terrain.This is the view of Khaled Al-Sayegh, undersecretary for construction at the municipality, who was speaking at an event held at the College...
JEDDAH: An official at the Council of Saudi Chambers said the council’s members are discussing a regulation to submit to the Ministry of Labor and other government agencies to deny a number of privileges to companies that force its labor to work unde...
ABHA: With many families wanting new furniture during Ramadan, furniture and interior decorating shops are raising prices to more than double what they were before the month.Homeowner Zaina Mohammed says she used to change her home furniture every Ra...
RIYADH: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) President Prince Sultan bin Salman described the first visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Madinah as “historic.”In his comments following the visit which saw th...
MADINAH: Economists expected the volume of investments in Madinah’s economies during the coming few years to reach SR500 billion.The forecasted growth in the population, to reach 2.6 million people after 25 years, and the number of visitors to 12.2 m...
JEDDAH: It seems that many Saudi families are gradually coming to terms with the new reality of living in apartments, as building villas is not possible due to shortage of appropriate land.With the increasing display of housing units by the Ministry...
RIYADH: Migrant rights advocacy group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) has lambasted their country’s leadership over the claim that the number of overseas Filipino workers are declining due to sustained economic growth in the Philippines.The group has cal...
RIYADH: A charitable foundation called “Smile” will be launched on Sunday night at the Al-Hokair Land in the Saudi capital to make people happy. “The foundation will be launched to make Saudi Arabia a center of smiles,” well-known television host and...
MAKKAH: The Kingdom has seen a sharp rise in the number of Umrah pilgrims to around 6 million from 1.5 million in the last 16 years. Moreover, the number of pilgrims overstaying their visas has come down to about 1 percent. The Ministry of Haj has be...
RIYADH: The King Khalid Foundation (KKF) said here recently that it has financed small enterprises (SMEs) run by 130 widows in some of the Kingdom’s provinces.KKF hosted an iftar party last week for local media at its headquarters in Riyadh at which...
JEDDAH: Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, governor of the Northern Borders province, has died.He will be buried after Taraweeh prayers in Jeddah on Saturday, the Royal Court said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. No other det...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education has suspended all parallel education programs, except in medical and engineering specialties, as well as bridging programs for health diploma certificates.Education Minister Azzam Al-Dhakil gave directions to the rec...
RIYADH: The Cooperative Health Insurance Council said it had suspended operations of six medical insurance companies for violating health insurance regulations by issuing insurance policies without completing the required documentation and violating...

Stay Connected

Facebook