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Biden's trip to 3 Asian nations to renew US role in Asia

(Xinhua)

17:03, August 16, 2011

WASHINGTON - US Vice-President Joe Biden on Tuesday starts his visits to China, Mongolia and Japan as part of the Obama administration's efforts to "renew and intensify" the US role in Asia, a senior White House official said on Monday.

"This trip that starts tomorrow is part of the administration's dedicated effort over the last two-and-a-half years to renew and intensify the US role in Asia," Biden's national security advisor Antony Blinken said.

"We've pursued a consistent strategy set out by President Obama to expand our presence and our influence in the region," he told reporters via a conference call, calling the vice president's trip "a reflection of our belief that the United States is a Pacific power whose interests are inextricably linked with Asia's economic security and political order."

Biden's East Asian trip is his first as vice president. Blinken said that during his four-day stay in China, Biden will discuss with Chinese leaders the "full breadth of issues" in the US-China relationship. In his visit to Chengdu, a city in southwestern Sichuan Province, the vice president will give a speech on US-China relations at Sichuan University.

He will also travel to Dujiangyan City in the province, jointly with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, where they will visit a high school that was rebuilt following the 2008 earthquake, Blinken said.

Blinken described Biden's visit to Mongolia as "truly historic, " as the last visit of a US vice president to the country was in 1944, when Henry Wallace toured Asia and included a stop in Mongolia.

"Mongolia offers an important example of a successful transition to a strong democracy and a partner with whom we're expanding cooperation in a broad variety of diplomatic, economic and defense areas," Blinken said. "Like China, this visit to Mongolia is a reflection of our broader effort to engage emerging powers as a way to build a secure, prosperous and democratic Asia. "

In his one-day trip, Biden will meet Mongolia's Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold and President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, who met President Obama at his Oval Office during a June visit.

Blinken said that Biden visits Japan to "underscore that the US-Japan alliance is strong."

"And, of course, Japan is an ally, but also a friend," Blinken said. "And the US stands with and supports Japan and the Japanese people as they recover from the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency."

During his two-day stay, Biden will meet Prime Minister Naoto Kan and visit the northeastern city of Sendai, where American forces took the lead in reopening the airport after the earthquake, Blinken said.

"The economic side of the trip obviously is very important," said Lael Brainard, under secretary of Treasury for international affairs.

He noted that the trip provides an opportunity for the vice president to "advance American economic interests in the dynamic region in Asia broadly."

"Of course, our trade and investment ties with China in particular are growing rapidly in both directions and we expect this to continue to be a vitally important trade investment relationship in terms of our broader jobs and exports agenda," he added.

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