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Obama touts cooperation with Asia, calls out China

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:40 AM EST, Mon November 14, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Obama says no region will shape the U.S. economy more than the Asia-Pacific region
  • Obama says China should "operate by the same rules" as other nations
  • He met bilaterally with China's leader, as well as those from Russia and Japan
  • It was all during the APEC summit held in Hawaii

Honolulu (CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama ended his trip to this weekend's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit stressing job creation -- calling the Pacific region vital to such economic growth, even as he needled China to do more.

Obama addressed reporters early Sunday evening, touting progress on several fronts in the Hawaii talks with leaders of 18 other nations and representatives from two others. Specifically, he referenced steps to increase trade, spur innovation, promote "green growth" and ease barriers to travel and interactions.

For instance, Obama noted that Japan, Canada and Mexico expressed interest Sunday in joining the United States and other nations in working toward a Trans-Pacific Partnership -- an effort to spur regional trade. Tapping into the Asia-Pacific region's markets is critical to the United States, Obama said, as it seeks to bolster its economy.

"I want (people overseas) to be buying goods with three words stamped on them: made in America," the president said. "No region will do more to shape our economic future than the Asian-Pacific nations."

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Obama said that China, now home to the world's second-largest economy, is a big part of that equation. But he said he continued to press its leadership -- including President Hu Jintao, at a meeting this weekend -- to make sure its trading partners aren't at a "disadvantage," mentioning the devaluation of currency and concerns about intellectual property rights not being protected.

"Enough is enough ... These practices aren't secret: I think everybody understands that they've been going on for quite some time," Obama said. "We're going to continue to be firm, to ensure that they operate by the same rules (as) everyone else."

The weekend summit was the first to be hosted on U.S. soil since President Bill Clinton's administration.

Prior to the summit, Obama was expected to use the event to kickoff a new era in foreign policy focusing on the region.

"Our citizens have sent us here with a common task: to bring our economies closer, to cooperate, to create jobs and prosperity that our people deserve so that they can provide for their families," he said.

During the weekend, Obama also emphasized the need for the United States to court foreign investment, despite leading the world in that area.

"We've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades," Obama said. "We've kind of taken for granted that people will want to come here, and we aren't out there trying to sell America and attract new businesses into America."

CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Caterpillar and Google passed when asked to comment on the president's characterization of the problem, though Eric Schmidt of Google said "lazy" is not the word he would have used.

The only APEC leaders not in attendance were from Thailand and Mexico, which sent lower-level representatives as their heads of state dealt with flooding and, in the case of Mexico, the death of its interior minister.

Over the weekend, Obama met personally with Hu, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

With Medvedev, the president discussed economic issues and Iran, which a recent International Atomic Energy Agency report finds to be closer to having the capacity to make nuclear weapons. Russia has expressed skepticism of the findings.

"We discussed Iran and reaffirmed our intention to work to shape a common response so we can move Iran to follow its international obligations when it comes to its nuclear program," Obama said, revealing few specifics.

CNN's Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.

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