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US tries to balance values, economies in Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- The Obama administration now has a taste of the difficult diplomacy necessary to sharpen the focus of American power on Asia, seeking investment opportunities alongside reforms from rights-abusing governments and working with China while defending U.S. interests.From democratic Mongolia to once-hostile Vietnam and long-isolated Laos, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week faced governments eager to embrace the United States as a strategic counterweight to China's expanding military and economic dominance of the region, while still lukewarm about American demands for greater democracy and rule of law.And after meeting face-to-face with China's foreign minister Thursday as she began to wrap up a weeklong tour of Asia, Clinton lauded Washington's cooperation with Beijing even as she took up the case of several Southeast Asian nations threatened by the communist government's expansive claims over the resource-rich South China Sea.In the discussions across the world's most populous continent, U.S. officials outlined their belief in greater democracy and freedom for Asian nations. The vision is part of a larger Obama administration effort to change the direction of U.S. diplomacy and commercial policy and redirect it to the place most likely to become the center of the global economy over the next century.It is also a reaction to the region's slide toward undemocratic China as its economy has boomed and America's has struggled.\As we've traveled across Asia