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US President to meet ASEAN leaders in mid-May

US President Joe Biden is going to meet ASEAN leaders in mid-May. The focus of this meeting is likely to be China’s growing influence in the region. The announcement to host ASEAN members was announced earlier this year and was confirmed on 6 April.

As per the previous announcement, this summit was supposed to be held in March. According to White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, the summit between US President and ASEAN leaders, “will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to ASEAN.”

The Press secretary also added that “It is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration to serve as a strong, reliable partner in Southeast Asia.”

The summit now will take place on 12 and 13 May. Earlier this meet was set for March 28 and 29. The reason for rescheduling the summit was conflicts in the availability of some ASEAN leaders during March; also, the Ukraine crisis also delayed the meeting.

The United States in the various forum has been saying that its foreign policy priority is to strengthen its ties with Asia.

Earlier on March 29, President Biden had met with a key ASEAN member, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, at the White House. During the meeting, President Biden said he wanted to ensure that the region remains “free and open.” By this statement, the US wanted to highlight Chinese attempts to dominate international trade routes, including the southeast Asian region.

Last year in October, President Biden participated in a virtual summit with ASEAN leaders. At the 2021 summit, Psaki mentioned in her statement, that the US President announced initiatives to expand US engagement with ASEAN on Covid-19, climate change, economic growth, and more.

As the US and Chinese ties are getting intense, dealing with China at multi-levels has become a policy objective for the US. Apart from China, the upcoming summit might discuss the Ukraine conflict.

There are several ASEAN members such as the Philippines, which have conflicting issues with Beijing. The White House Press secretary however did not confirm if Myanmar would attend the summit. The US had earlier criticized the military regime for engaging in “genocide” against Rohingyas.