America decides

US Presidential Election 2012

Re-elected Barack Obama on diplomatic offensive in Asia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 2:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2012, 4:15am

US President Barack Obama will engage China and its neighbours in a fresh diplomatic offensive after securing a historic second term in the White House.

Obama will attend the East Asia Summit in Cambodia on November 18, which Premier Wen Jiabao is also expected to join. It could be followed by a trip to Myanmar, in what would be an unprecedented visit for a US president to the former pariah state.

Both President Hu Jintao and Wen congratulated Obama after he defeated Republican rival Mitt Romney in a bruising campaign that was the most expensive in US history.

The win comes amid China's own leadership transition and a renewed focus by the  US on engaging Asia diplomatically and through its so-called military "pivot" to the region.

Officials in Myanmar said Obama would meet President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on November 19. Washington has yet to confirm the trip. 

Thein Sein made a landmark trip to New York in September, becoming the first Myanmese leader to speak to the UN General Assembly, after a series of visits to Myanmar by US officials.  Obama has a small window for travel  before deliberations with Congress on a deal for spending cuts to avoid automatic cuts and tax rises known  as the "fiscal cliff".

Yesterday, Obama pledged fresh efforts to heal both the wounded US economy and his nation's political divides.

Asia's share markets were muted after his victory - Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7 per cent - while markets in Europe enjoyed a short-lived boost before slipping back. US stock markets tumbled soon after opening  - partly on  the EU's grim forecast for the bloc's economy - with the Dow down 291 points, or 2.2 per cent, in late morning trade.