US President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Palm Springs International Airport in Palm Springs, California on February 12, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN
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A summit next week between Southeast Asian leaders and President Barack Obama is unlikely to deliver any big economic prizes, but will allow the American side to press the advantages of joining a Pacific trade pact that doesn't include China.Its special nature is intended to show the Obama administration's commitment to countering growing Chinese influence in a region that is home to 620 million people and a $2.6 trillion economy.Richard Javad Heydarian, assistant professor of political science at Manila's De La Salle University, said he expects Obama to pitch the benefits of American-led economic initiatives, and particularly for Southeast Asia's economic heavyweights, Indonesia and Thailand, to join the Pacific trade agreement.He also expects Obama to court Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as countries that are within the economic orbit of China.
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