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Obama affirms commitment to Asia

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    Obama affirms commitment to Asia

    US President Barack Obama has welcomed a bigger role for China on the world scene and pledged to pursue greater cooperation with Asian countries.Speaking in Tokyo, he said the US would not be "cowed" by North Korea's nuclear threats and that his commitment to the security of Asia was "unshakeable".

    Mr Obama also called on Asian leaders to pursue balanced economic growth.

    After Japan, he attends an Asia-Pacific economic summit in Singapore, followed by visits to China and South Korea.

    Calling himself America's first "Pacific president", Mr Obama said the US did not seek to "contain" China's rising power.

    "On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations."

    But he warned that he would not waver from raising human rights concerns with Beijing.

    Mr Obama said Washington's commitment to the region's security was "unshakeable" despite fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    He warned North Korea that there would be tough, unified action by the US and its Asian partners if the Koreans fail to abandon their nuclear weapons programmes, and again called on Pyongyang to return to six-party talks.

    On the issue of economic cooperation, Mr Obama challenged Asian countries to break their dependence on exports to the US and to pursue "balanced" and sustainable economic growth.

    "We must strengthen our economic recovery, and pursue growth that is both balanced and sustained," he said. "We simply cannot return to the same cycles of boom and bust that led us into a global recession."

    Mr Obama arrived in Tokyo on Friday and met Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

    The two leaders agreed on the need to renew their countries' strained alliance and pledged to work quickly to resolve a dispute over the US military base in Okinawa.

    His eight-day tour will next take him to Singapore, where he will attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit.

    After that, Mr Obama moves on to China on Sunday. He wraps up his visit in South Korea next week.
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