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Obama in Hawaii for APEC Summit

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama disembark Air Force One as they arrive at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii, where they will host the APEC summit, November 11, 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama is in his native Hawaii Saturday to host a two-day economic summit with Asia-Pacific leaders.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit begins a nine-day trip for the president aimed at improving U.S. ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama is expected to discuss a proposed Pacific Rim free-trade zone including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Japan has expressed interest in joining the trade zone talks, boosting the chances of attracting other regional economic powers. China is not part of the talks, but has said it would consider joining.

President Obama is scheduled to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the summit and will also hold one-on-one talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Analysts say Obama is using the trip to reassure allies the U.S. will play a key role in the region and serve as a counterweight to China's rising status.

From Hawaii, Obama will stop briefly in Australia then make his second presidential trip to Indonesia, where he spent part of his boyhood. He also will become the first U.S. president to attend the East Asia Summit, on the tourist island of Bali.

During his weekly address Saturday, the president turned his attention to finding jobs for U.S. military veterans. He recorded the message Friday - the Veterans Day holiday in the United States - while aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, docked San Diego, California.

The president challenged businesses to hire more veterans, especially those returning from overseas tours of duty.

Obama says he is ready to sign legislation giving tax credits to businesses that hire veterans. The Senate has passed the measure and the House of Representatives is set to vote on the bill during the coming week. The measure is part of the president's $447 billion jobs package.

Republicans also used their weekly message to focus on jobs for veterans.

Congressman Joe Heck says Congress must step up and work together to help veterans who sacrifice so much for the country.

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