Barack Obama is set to begin his last trip to Asia as US President on Saturday and he will aim to seal his signature policy shift towards the Pacific. But the post-Brexit crisis and the battle against IS will be a distraction.
Obama will attend the G20 summit in China and his meeting with the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping will determine the course for his successor, set to be elected in November.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton who has served as Obama’s former secretary of state and was a co-architect of his Asia strategy, opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, raising concerns from partners in the 12-country pact.
Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump has shocked allies like Japan and South Korea by suggesting they should pay more for their security and develop their own nuclear weapons to protect against the threat posed by North Korea.
"In Asia, one of the challenges the US has had throughout Obama’s presidency is one of reassurance: that we actually say what we mean what we say when we say we intend to rebalance to Asia," said Derek Chollet, a former defence adviser to Obama told Reuters.
"Asia partners are suspicious that even if we really mean it, that we’re easily sidetracked," said Chollet
Obama and Xi Jinping have cooperated on combating climate change and curbing Iran's nuclear drive but have failed to clear their countries’ main differences.
The US has made several accusations of cyber hacking by the Chinese and there are disputes over trade, topped by Beijing's contested claims in the South China Sea.
Michael Green, Asia adviser to former Republican president George W. Bush, said he did not expect the Obama-Xi meeting to yield much. "No grand joint declaration as we saw early in the administration, no celebration - perhaps some agreements on climate change - but a pretty rough and scratchy relationship," Green told Reuters.
Obama will also hold talks with NATO ally Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan but the talks will be clouded by strained relations over the strategy on Syrian civil war and war and concerns about Erdogan's crackdown on opponents after the failed coup in July.
(WION with inputs from Reuters)