Diplomacy amidst the white sand beaches and pineapple farms of Hawaii:
Underscoring the region’s importance to the U.S., Obama on Saturday, as expected, announced the broad outlines of an agreement to create a transpacific trade zone encompassing the United States and eight other nations. He said details must still be worked out, but said the goal was to complete the deal by next year. ‘I’m confident we can get this done,” he said.
On a day of heavy diplomacy, the president also was looking to contain deepening worries over Iran amid a fresh U.N. atomic agency report that Iran is working secretly on a nuclear weapon.
On the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic summit, Obama met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and was to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The timing of the meetings with the Russian and Chinese leaders was particularly significant as Obama seeks to increase world pressure on Iran.
Another interesting quote on any China wasn’t invited to the ‘trade bloc’ dance:
In a sign of potential tension with China, Mike Froman, a deputy national security adviser who focuses on international economic matters, shrugged off complaints from China that it had not been invited to join the trade bloc. He told reporters that China had not expressed interest in joining and said the trade group “is not something that one gets invited to. It’s something that one aspires to.”