US-ASEAN Summit to to reassure region of US engagement
US President Barack Obama will host a two-day summit with ASEAN leaders on Monday at the Sunnylands Center in California. The meeting is the first of its kind in the United States. Its purpose is partly to reassure Pacific nations that Washington's Pacific pivot strategy will survive Obama's departure from the White House.
It was a 2011 pledge turning U.S. foreign policy towards the Pacific: the "Asia Pivot." At the time, the U.S. economy was still in recovery. China's GDP growth hovered around 9.2 percent.
Five years later, as the first self-declared Pacific president gave his last State of the Union address, U.S. troops had returned to Iraq, stayed in Afghanistan, and American diplomats were focused on Iran and Syria.
But U.S. President Barack Obama and his diplomats have increased their attendance at regional meetings like the East Asia Summit, APEC, and the US-ASEAN summit.
Half the promised 2,500 U.S. marines have deployed to Darwin, Australia. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement - involving Asian nations - was reached last year.
Shohib Masykur is a fellow at the U.S.-Indonesia Society. And for U.S. companies operating in the region, that increased presence has translated into profits.
But in Southeast Asia, Masykur says nations are still evaluating the strategy's progress.
Another question Southeast Asian nations will be asking at the US-ASEAN Summit is: Will U.S. engagement in the region continue under the next president White House officials say the new U.S. ASEAN Strategic partnership is part of a framework that will outlast Obama.