(Adds comments on North Korea)
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, Nov 17 (Reuters) - U.S. President
Barack Obama departed on Saturday for a three-country swing
through Asia, using his first foreign trip since winning
re-election to emphasize his administration's focus on the
Obama will make stops in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. The
highlight of the trip is likely to be the historic stop in
Myanmar, a former pariah state. The White House hopes his visit
will push the country to lock in democratic reforms.
"In addition to the democratic reforms, we've been concerned
about the continued ethnic conflicts in Burma," Ben Rhodes,
deputy national security adviser, told reporters accompanying
Obama aboard Air Force One.
The Obama administration still refers to Myanmar by its
older name, Burma.
Rhodes added the Obama administration is pressing Myanmar to
break its military ties to North Korea, as well, and "we've seen
them take some positive steps in that direction."
The president's tour may be overshadowed, however, by
violence in the Middle East and concerns about tax and spending
talks with lawmakers back home.
Obama is scheduled to return to Washington early Wednesday
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Walsh)