PHNOM PENH — On the final day of his Southeast Asia trip, President Barack Obama met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
It was the first meeting between the president and Premier Wen since their talks at the last East Asia Summit in Bali last year and since Obama's re-election to a second term. The two have met five times in all.
As the two largest global economies, the president says China and the United States have a special responsibility to lead the way to ensure sustained and balanced global economic growth.
"It is very important that as two of the largest economies in the world, that we work to establish clear rules of the road internationally for trade and investment, which can increase prosperity and global growth," said Obama.
Premier Wen congratulated Obama on his re-election and spoke about the importance of a strong Sino-American relationship, calling it important for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
In describing the talks to reporters, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes offered additional specifics, noting that meeting was the last the two will have, given leadership changes in China.
"They discussed the importance of the U.S. and China consistently maintaining our cooperation on a bilateral and global level. They discussed security issues including Iran. They discussed economic issues, including our commitment to strengthen the rules of the road in the global economy,” said Rhodes. “And, they discussed regional stability, reaffirming that China is part of our engagement here in this important region a critical part of that engagement, and our interest again in resolving territorial disputes and maritime disputes consistent with international rules of the road."
In his only other bilateral meeting at the East Asia Summit, President Obama met with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan.
Those discussions focused on the U.S. - Japan alliance. Washington has urged Tokyo and Beijing to resolve tensions about disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Although there were expectations Japan would announce it is joining the Trans-Pacific partnership, a new free trade initiative, Rhodes says that did not happen.
Obama's Southeast Asia trip has enabled him to fill in more details of the U.S. economic and security shift to the Asia-Pacific region, of which nations in the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) are a crucial part.
He addressed the shift toward the end of his speech in Rangoon, Burma.
"The United States of America is a Pacific nation. We see our future as bound to those nations and peoples to our West,” he said. “As our economy recovers, this is where we believe we will find tremendous growth. As we end the wars that have dominated our foreign policy for a decade, this region will be a focus of our efforts to build a prosperous peace.”
In their final statement, U.S. and ASEAN leaders say they are elevating the annual leaders meeting to a summit.