US President Barack Obama has landed in the Philippines as he looks to strengthen ties with Asia and reinforce a regional trade pact. However, economics are likely to be overshadowed by the Paris attacks.
Obama flew directly from theG20 summit in Turkey
to Manila on Tuesday, where he will hold bilateral meetings with Philippine President Benigno Aquino and other allies.
The US president and his Philippine counterpart are expected to discuss regional tensions over the South China Sea and enhanced military cooperation.
Just last week, the US received warnings from a Chinese air traffic controller after two American B-52 bombers flew "in the area" of the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea.
China claims most of the South China Sea, but Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims in the region.
Washington has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to freedom of navigation and flight in the area - a position that has put it in direct dispute with Beijing.
Tighter security after Paris attacks
On Wednesday, the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit will also get underway where the 21-member group hopes to promote trade.
In light oflast Friday's deadly attacks in Paris,
however, terrorism and a strategy to thwart the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group in the Middle East are likely to override much of the discussion.
Philippine authorities have alsostepped up security at the APEC forum,
with parts of the capital having been brought to a complete standstill.
TPP deal 'celebrated'
Also on the agenda for Obama is a summit with the heads of state of the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) group, as well as separate meeting with members of the Latin-American trade bloc, Pacific Alliance.
Pacific ministers reached a deal on the TPP earlier this month. The accord had been somewhat controversial, however, particularly due to the secret negotiations which had shaped it over the past five years, as well as the perceived threat to an array of interest groups from Mexican carmakers to Canadian dairy farmers.
Obama will continue his tour later in the week when he travels to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
ksb/jil (Reuters, AFP)