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Obama Heads to China, Laos for Possibly Last Asia Trip

FILE - U.S. President Barack Obama, right, smiles after a group of children waved flags and flowers to cheer him during a welcome ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Nov. 12, 2014.

Next month, U.S. President Barack Obama will make what is expected to be his last official trip to Asia.

The White House announced Thursday that the president will travel to China on Sept. 2 to attend the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

He then will go on to Laos, making him the first U.S. president to visit that Southeast Asian nation.

In China, Obama will focus on the importance of a level playing field and broad-based economic opportunity, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

He also will hold meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as tensions continue to rise in the region over the South China Sea and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

In Laos, the president will attend the U.S.-ASEAN meeting, and hold talks with President Bounnhang Vorachith and other key officials to advance cooperation between the U.S. and Laos.

The trip also will be a chance for Obama to promote the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, a key part of his Asia strategy that he hopes Congress will approve before his term ends Jan. 20.

During his time in the White House, Obama has sought to "rebalance" America's defense and economic policy to counter China's rising influence in the region.