President Barack Obama is about to head off to Southeast Asia to showcase a foreign policy achievement in Myanmar and reinforce the U.S. role as a counterweight to China.
The four-day trip beginning Saturday will provide a brief break from dicey fiscal negotiations and a national security sex scandal in Washington, both of which have competed with the glow of his re-election.
Obama also will visit Thailand and attend a regional summit in Cambodia. It's his first overseas travel since June.
Obama is the first U.S. president to travel to Myanmar, also known as Burma, where decades of repression are giving way to democratization. The trip also highlights the president's efforts to expand the U.S. footprint in the Asia-Pacific region.