HONOLULU, EAST-WEST WIRE — This week Barack Obama begins his first trip to Asia as U.S. head of state. His visit to Singapore for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting plus additional stops in Japan, China and South Korea offer an opportunity for the president to give further dynamism to America’s relationships with this vital part of the world.

In visiting Asia, Obama has many assets to draw upon. Although his adult experience in Asia is relatively limited, he is the first U.S. president to have actually lived in the region and to have a genuine Asia-Pacific orientation from his earliest years. He is widely popular in the region, especially his boyhood home of Indonesia, where according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, positive images of the United States climbed to 63 percent in 2009 from 37 percent last year.

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