With Europe slowed down in crisis, President Barack Obama is launching a charm offensive this week to hitch the U.S. economy to growth opportunities in Asia that he hopes can help power the recovery he needs for re-election.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, will host Asian leaders including Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Honolulu this weekend to seek to developed trade ties across the Pacific.
He will then travel to Australia to announce plans to boost the U.S. military presence in the region and will be the first American president to attend the East Asia Summit in Bali. There, he will heap attention on the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as India.
The campaign to cozy up to Asian powers large and small comes at a critical moment for the U.S. economy, whose recovery is at risk because of a spiraling debt crisis in Europe that dominated a G-20 leaders' summit in France last week.