U.S. President Barack Obama meets leaders from Southeast Asia in California to form a common stance on the South China Sea. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama gathered leaders from Southeast Asia on Monday (February 15) to strengthen trade ties and form a common stance on the South China Sea in a summit the White House hopes will solidify U.S. influence in the region. Obama, who leaves office next year, has championed a foreign policy pivot to Asia during his presidency and is determined to present the United States as a Pacific power. On Tuesday (February 16), the leaders will discuss maritime issues, particularly the South China Sea, where China and several Southeast Asian states have conflicting and overlapping claims. White House officials have said Obama would deliver a tough message to China that disputes over the South China Sea must be resolved peacefully and not by bullying. "Here at this summit, we can advance our shared vision of a regional order where international rules and norms, including freedom of navigation, are upheld and where disputes are resolved through peaceful, legal means," Obama said. The challenge may be to get all ASEAN countries to agree on a strong statement on the issue. Officials say China has put pressure on countries such as Cambodia and Laos not to sign on. On Monday (February 15), the leaders were slated to focus on economic issues, including discussion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, which includes four ASEAN members: Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. Others are interested in joining, and the White House wants to make sure the pact takes effect. White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice told reporters U.S. companies had more than doubled investment in the region since 2008.