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Shortly after arriving in Philippines, President Barack Obama held talks with President Benigno Aquino and was later to attend a state dinner.

Manila is the final stop of the US president’s four-nation Asia tour.

President Barack Obama says that a new US-Philippine military pact will promote stability in the region.

The deal, signed in Manila hours before Barack Obama touched down, allows a bigger US military presence in the country.

Barack Obama arrives in Philippines, the final stop of his four-nation Asia tour

Barack Obama arrives in Philippines, the final stop of his four-nation Asia tour

Barack Obama said the deal was not intended to contain China, with whom Manila is embroiled in a bitter territorial row.

But he backed Manila’s move to seek UN arbitration over its maritime dispute with Beijing.

“Our goal is not to counter China. Our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected and that includes in the area of international disputes,” he said.

The 10-year military deal was signed by Philippine Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on Monday morning.

Under the agreement, the US will have better access to military bases, ports and airfields. US troops would rotate through these facilities and engage in joint training, officials said.

Barack Obama said the US was not planning to rebuild old bases or construct new ones under the security pact.

“We’ll work together to build the Philippines’ defense capabilities and work with other nations to promote regional stability such as in the South China Sea,” he said.

In a statement, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario described it as “milestone in our shared history as enduring treaty allies”.

“The EDCA [Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement] elevates to a higher plane of engagement our already robust defense alliance,” he said.

However, the presence of foreign troops is a sensitive issue in the Philippines, a former US colony.

Anti-US activists who say the deal will not benefit the Philippines and harms its sovereignty were expected to protest during Barack Obama’s visit.

The US used to have large bases in the Philippines but these were closed in the early 1990s. US troops have also been active in the southern Philippines, where al-Qaeda-linked militants are based.

In recent months, however, Washington and Manila have moved to strengthen ties again, as the Philippine relationship with China has deteriorated amid a more assertive stance from Beijing on its territorial claims.

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Barack Obama has arrived in Malaysia – the third leg of the US president Asian tour.

President Barack Obama is the first serving American leader to visit the predominantly-Muslim nation since 1966.

The visit signals closer bilateral relations after decades of uneasy ties.

Barack Obama is expected to seek closer trade relations with Malaysia to dilute China’s influence in the region.

The US has already provided Kuala Lumpur with military assistance, most recently in the search for the missing Malaysian airline.

President Barack Obama is the first serving American leader to visit Malaysia since 1966

President Barack Obama is the first serving American leader to visit Malaysia since 1966

Barack Obama landed at Malaysia’s Air Force base in Subang on Saturday evening local time.

The US president has already visited Japan and South Korea as part of a four-nation tour of Asia.

Ahead of the visit, Malaysia’s government controlled newspapers printed the American flag on their front pages, along with the words “Welcome, Mr. President”.

But some analysts say it has taken Barack Obama too long to visit Malaysia, especially since he lived in the region as a child.

American presidents had stayed away because of years of anti-Western rhetoric under former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, but current PM Najib Razak wants Washington to recognize Malaysia as a global player.

In his turn, Barack Obama wants Kuala Lumpur to sign a free trade deal with 10 other nations – the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said relations between the US and Malaysia had blossomed in recent years.

Malaysia has become a “pivotal state” in the Obama administration’s push to strengthen ties throughout the fast-growing and strategically important region, the Associated Press quoted Ben Rhodes as saying.

However, some Malay Muslims claim that the US-led trade deal will reduce their economic privileges over other ethnic groups in the country.

Barack Obama arrived in Malaysia from South Korea and will finish his Asian tour in the Philippines on April 29.

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President Barack Obama arrived in Seoul for a visit that comes amid concern that North Korea may be planning a fourth nuclear test.

Barack Obama, who arrived from Japan on the second stop of his Asian tour, will hold talks with South Korean leader Park Geun-hye.

Their talks are set to focus on North Korea, following reports of activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

Barack Obama is also expected to express grief over last week’s ferry disaster.

More than 300 people were killed or remain missing after the Sewol passenger ferry sank off South Korea, in a tragedy that has shocked the nation.

Most of those who died were teenagers on a school trip.

Barack Obama arrived in Seoul for a visit that comes amid concern that North Korea may be planning a fourth nuclear test

Barack Obama arrived in Seoul for a visit that comes amid concern that North Korea may be planning a fourth nuclear test (photo Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Barack Obama is expected to hold talks with Park Geun-hye, visit US troops and then fly to Malaysia on Saturday.

Speaking in Japan, the US president called the North Korean problem “the most destabilizing, dangerous situation in all of the Asia-Pacific region”, and described China’s role in influencing Pyongyang as “critically important”.

Earlier this week, South Korea’s military said it had detected “a lot of activity” at the North’s nuclear test site, suggesting it was either planning a test or would pretend to stage one.

North Korea has carried out three such tests in the past, most recently in February 2013 – an incident that triggered months of severe tension on the Korean peninsula.

It also carried out tests in 2006 and 2009. All resulted in the imposition of sanctions by the UN, which bars Pyongyang from nuclear tests under resolution 1718.

A report from 38 North, the website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, also confirmed increased activity at the site “probably related to preparations for a detonation”, based on satellite imagery.

The document highlighted “increased movement of vehicles and materials near what are believed to be the entrances to two completed test tunnels”.

While Pyongyang has tested devices, it is not yet believed to have mastered the process of making a nuclear warhead small enough to deliver via a missile.

China is regarded as the nation with the best chance of influencing North Korea’s behavior, because of their trade ties.

“We will not allow war and chaos on China’s doorstep,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Thursday.

“In the meantime, we have consistently and proactively advocated dialogue and negotiation.”

Also on Barack Obama’s agenda will be Seoul’s ties with Japan. The US wants its two main Asian allies to work together to tackle North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

But rows over disputed islands and unresolved historical tensions have severely strained the Tokyo-Seoul relationship.

Last month, the US brokered a meeting between South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe in a bid to put things back on track.

In Japan, Barack Obama issued a firm statement of support over Tokyo’s dispute over a separate set of islands with China.

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After talks with PM Shinzo Abe, President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for Japan in its row over islands with China.

Barack Obama, who is on a four-nation Asia tour, warned against escalation in the dispute and said he wanted to see the row resolved peacefully.

He confirmed that the islands fell under a security treaty that commits the US to act if Japan is attacked.

Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe also discussed a major trade deal as well as North Korea.

The US president arrived in Japan late on Wednesday ahead of stops in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

He is not going to Beijing but relations with China are expected to dominate his meetings with regional leaders.

After talks with PM Shinzo Abe, President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for Japan in its row over islands with China

After talks with PM Shinzo Abe, President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for Japan in its row over islands with China

Barack Obama’s trip – which ends on April 29 – comes nearly seven months after he cancelled a visit to the region because of a US government shutdown.

Officials say it is aimed at reassuring America’s Asian allies of its commitment to the region amid concern over China’s growing power.

On Wednesday Barack Obama had an informal dinner with Shinzo Abe. The two leaders then held talks on Thursday morning and gave a joint press conference.

“Article five [of the US-Japan security treaty] covers all territories under Japan’s administration including [the] Senkaku islands,” Barack Obama said, echoing comments published in Wednesday’s Yomiuri newspaper.

“We do not believe that they should be subject to change unilaterally.”

“This is not a new position. This is a consistent one,” he said.

However, Barack Obama also said he told Shinzo Abe that it “would be a profound mistake to continue to see escalation around this issue instead of dialogue”.

The islands are called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Japan controls the islands but China has been strongly pressing its claim in recent months, flying and sailing vessels in and out of what Japan says are its waters and airspace.

Japan depends on the US for its security, under a decades-old alliance that dates back to the end of World War Two. If Japan is attacked, the US is obliged to come to its aid.

China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that it opposed the US stance.

“The so-called US-Japan alliance is a bilateral arrangement from the Cold War and ought not to harm China’s territorial sovereignty and reasonable rights,” spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing.

Shinzo Abe and Barack Obama also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a giant trade deal involving 12 nations.

It is currently stalled partly due to a row between the US and Japan over agricultural tariffs.

North Korea was also on the agenda. Barack Obama wants Tokyo and Seoul to work together on the issue, but ties between the two remain badly strained because of war-related historical issues.

Barack Obama flies to Seoul after Tokyo, amid reports of increased activity at Pyongyang’s nuclear test site – potentially suggesting a fourth nuclear test could be imminent.

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President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Wednesday ahead of stops in three other Asian nations.

Barack Obama is not going to Beijing, but relations with China are expected to dominate his meetings with regional leaders.

The US president’s trip – April 23-29 – comes nearly seven months after he cancelled a visit to the region due to a government shutdown.

Stops include a private dinner with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, as well as bilateral meetings with the South Korean, Malaysian and Philippine leaders.

President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Wednesday ahead of stops in three other Asian nations

President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Wednesday ahead of stops in three other Asian nations

Ties between Tokyo and Beijing will be high on the agenda when Barack Obama touches down in Japan.

Relations are severely strained over a raft of issues, including East China Sea islands – called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China – that both claim.

Japan controls the islands but Chinese ships have sailed repeatedly in and out of what Japan says are its territorial waters as Beijing presses its claim. Last year, China declared an air defense identification zone over the islands, drawing widespread criticism.

Japan depends on the US for its security, under a decades-old alliance that dates back to the end of World War Two.

The US, however, is keen for Japan to take on greater responsibility for its own security – an area where Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe are likely to be in general agreement.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal which requires each country to strike an agreement with other prospective members.

A rift between Japan and the US over agriculture product tariffs has proven a major sticking point.

Barack Obama is also expected to have to balance bolstering US ties with each Asian ally with improving communication among them, particularly between South Korea and Japan.

The two Asian nations are at odds over a separate set of disputed islands, as well as historical issues linked to Japan’s war history.

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