Obama to showcase US clout in Southeast Asia


US President Barack Obama hopes to demonstrate rising US clout in Asia on his first foreign trip since his re-election, with a tour of three countries including a stop in Myanmar.

Mr Obama will head to longtime US ally Thailand tomorrow, and meet Asia's top leaders at a summit in Cambodia in the coming days.

He launched a so-called pivot to Asia in his first term in office. 

It included greater military cooperation with Australia, Thailand and Vietnam and a plan to shift the bulk of the US navy to the Pacific by 2020.

Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, said that Mr Obama's trip shows that the US is not only rebalancing itself towards Asia but also within Asia. 

Meanwhile, 

The White House said that it hopes Mr Obama's landmark visit to Myanmar would offer a tremendous boost to reforms underway but insisted he is clear-eyed about the country's challenges. 

Mr Obama is expected to press Myanmar's leaders to improve the treatment of the Rohingya. 

He would also press for actions including the unconditional release of political prisoners.