Obama will host Asian-Pacific leaders in Southern California

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the sequester after a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in Washington March 1, 2013. Obama pressed the U.S. Congress on Friday to avoid a government shutdown when federal spending authority runs out on March 27, saying it is the "right thing to do." REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)

Honolulu (CNN)Leaders from Southeast Asia will convene in the California desert early next year for a summit hosted by President Barack Obama, the White House says.

Obama invited the leaders to attend the meeting when he visited Malaysia last month to attend the yearly Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting.

Myles Caggins, a national security spokesman for the White House, said the gathering in California would include “important conversations about the Asia-Pacific region.”

“The President is pleased the leaders have accepted his invitation to gather at Sunnylands, in early 2016,” Caggins said, without providing any further details.

Obama has made Asian relations a central component of his foreign policy, hoping to counterbalance the influence of China in the region. On November’s trip to Malaysia and the Philippines, Obama touted the recently-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and sought to reassure uneasy leaders of the United States’ backing amid maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Sunnylands is a sprawling 200-acre estate in‎ Rancho Mirage, just outside Palm Springs. The mid-century mansion situated on the property was built by the Annenberg family and is now used by presidents and other public officials as a desert retreat.

Obama used the facility to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time in 2013 and met King Abdullah of Jordan there last year.

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