The United States said on Friday it had invited Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to pay state visits this year, in a further sign of President Barack Obama's policy emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.
Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, said Washington had also asked South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Indonesian President Joko Widodo to visit this year as part of Washington's moves to increase economic, security and diplomatic engagement with the region.
Presenting Obama's updated national security strategy in a speech at the Brookings Institution think tank, Rice said it aimed to "enhance our focus on regions that will shape the century ahead, starting with the Asia-Pacific."
The strategy document stressed the risks posed by rival maritime claims in Asia and by nuclear-armed North Korea.
It said the United States was responding by modernizing its treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines and by increasing security cooperation with Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Washington's Asia rebalance is largely a response to China's rise and increased assertiveness in pursuit of territorial claims, but the document said the United States rejected "the inevitability of confrontation" with Beijing.
"At the same time, we will manage competition from a position of strength while insisting that China uphold international rules and norms on issues ranging from maritime security to trade and human rights," it said.
Rice highlighted Obama’s visit to India last month, a country the United States sees as a key counterbalance to a rising China. She said the visit had "strengthened a critical relationship which will deliver economic and security benefits for both our nations and the broader region."
A White House spokesman said he had no dates yet to release for the Washington visits.
Xi was last in the United States for an informal summit in California in June 2013. He met Obama again after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Beijing in November.
Abe and Park also visited the United States in 2013, while Obama visited both of their countries last year. Widodo has yet to visit Washington as president. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attended his inauguration in October.