President Obama deflected claims that his week-long trip to Asia this week was an "Asian distraction" to draw attention away from issues such as the fight against the Islamic State, the recent terror attacks in Paris and the debate on whether the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees escaping the dangers of a civil war.
Speaking during a news conference Sunday at the Ritz Carlton in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Obama rejected the premise that Asia was "disconnected" from events going on elsewhere in the world.
"I could not disagree more. This region is not a distraction from the world's central challenges, like terrorism," he said. "The Asia Pacific is absolutely critical to promoting security, prosperity and human dignity around the world. That's why I've devoted so much of my foreign policy to deepening America's engagement with this region. And I'm pleased that on this trip we made progress across the board."
Countries in the Asia Pacific, such as Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand are a part of the coalition to fight the Islamic State, Obama said to reporters, which he said "will not relent" in its fight against the terrorist organization.