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U.S. President Barack Obama, center, waves with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during ASEAN-U.S. summit, a parallel summit in the ongoing 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and other related summits at National Convention Center i
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From Washington, this is VOA News.

I’m Frances Alonzo reporting.

President Barack Obama said Thursday that he made it clear to Southeast Asian leaders gathered in Laos that the United States will continue to stand with the people of the region.

“With respect to maritime issues, we’ll continue to work to ensure that disputes are resolved peacefully, including in the South China Sea. The landmark arbitration ruling in July, which was binding, helped clarify maritime rights in the region…”

President Obama has made re-balancing U.S. policy with a focus toward Southeast Asia a priority during his presidency. President Obama said his hope and expectation would be that his successor continues, once his term ends in January.

He also pledged to continue pressuring the North Korean government, and also putting in place defensive measures to ensure the U.S. and its allies are protected.

Afghan officials say they have repulsed a major Taliban assault on the provincial capital of central Uruzgan province and a "house-to-house" search has been launched to clear any remaining insurgents.

Taliban insurgents had fought their way into the besieged city of Tarin Kot Thursday morning, which triggered fierce battles with Afghan security forces.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter Thursday said Washington is willing to cooperate with Moscow to end the Syrian conflict, but only if there is first a "true cessation" of hostilities.

Ahead of an expected meeting in Geneva between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, Carter spoke to BBC radio and said there was "quite a long way to go" before a deal could be struck.

This is VOA News.

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