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Obama's Seeking Deeper Asia-Pacific Ties in Overseas Journey

U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Washington this Sunday on his first overseas journey of the year, a delayed visit to Indonesia and Australia during which he hopes to strengthen U.S. ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr. Obama spent four boyhood years living in Indonesia after his mother married an Indonesian man, and he has maintained close personal ties with the world's most populous predominantly Muslim nation.

The president will arrive in Jakarta on March 23 and meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He will also deliver a major address that is expected to build on the speech he made to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt, last June.

Mr. Obama's Indonesian visit includes a stop on the resort island of Bali before he flies to Canberra, the Australian capital, to address Australia's parliament, marking the seven decades of close ties between the two countries.

The president will outline his administration's security commitment to the Asian region in another speech - this one during a refueling stop on Guam, the U.S. Pacific territory, en route to Jakarta.

Mr. Obama's decision to delay his departure from Washington by three days so he can focus on renewed efforts to get his health care overhaul through Congress forced him to cut short his time in Australia. It also resulted in cancellation of plans by first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha to go along on the trip.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.