Biden to make Asia swing in December

Vice President Biden will head to Asia next month on a three-nation trip that is part of President Obama's “pivot” to the region during his second term.

Biden is scheduled to travel to Japan, China and South Korea during the first week of December, the White House announced Monday.

In Toyko, Biden will be focused on the negotiations over the 12-member Pacific Rim trade deal, while in Beijing and Seoul, the discussion will shift to security and regional issues.

The administration's commitment to the “pivot” was deal a setback last month when Obama canceled a four-nation trip to Asia, citing the government shutdown. 

The trip would have culminated with Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks with foreign leaders on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia. Instead, Chinese leader Xi Jinping largely stole the show, highlighting China's rising clout in the region.

“I should have been there,” Obama said at the time. “I would characterize it as missed opportunities.”

The administration has struggled to keep the focus on Asia due to flaring tensions in the Middle East.

Secretary of State John Kerry is on his seventh trip to the Middle East since he took over as America's top diplomat nine months ago. Relations between the U.S. and allies in the region have frayed over America's limited role in Syria, and over Obama's overtures to Iran.

Here's the full White House readout for the Biden trip:

Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea the first week of December. In Tokyo, he will meet with key leaders to discuss a broad range of issues with our close ally. They plan to focus on progress towards a high standard Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, seek further momentum on key alliance goals, and discuss a range of regional and global challenges. In Beijing, the Vice President will meet with key leaders to consult on global and regional issues of mutual interest. Finally, in Seoul, the Vice President will meet with key leaders to address bilateral, regional and global challenges, including in particular our close cooperation and coordination to address security threats.

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