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Obama hosts Southeast Asian leaders in first summit to promote economic ties

The US president has opened a two-day informal summit in California with leaders from various Southeast Asian countries. It is the first such meeting ever to be held on American soil.

President Barack Obama welcomed leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as they gathered in California on Monday to discuss economic and regional security matters.

"You and the people of ASEAN have always shown me extraordinary hospitality and I hope we can reciprocate with the warmth of today and tomorrow, which is why I did not hold this summit in Washington," Obama said in his opening remarks. The meeting, held at the California estate of Sunnylands, is the first ASEAN meeting to be held on US soil.

Among the topics high on the agenda were trade - especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership - and ongoing concerns about Chinese military aggression.

Obama said that trade between the US and ASEAN countries had increased by 55 percent since he had taken office.

The ten members of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

blc/jm (AP, dpa)

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