Friday, December 2, 2022

US President Joe Biden to host special ASEAN summit

US President Joe Biden has announced that he will host a special summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian countries here this spring, indicating the importance he attaches to his Indo-Pacific policy amidst China’s aggressive moves in the strategically vital region.
Biden made the announcement during a joint news conference with the visiting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House on Tuesday.
“As we look toward the future, Prime Minister Lee and I share a commitment to ASEAN and its centrality in all of what we do. And I’m looking forward to hosting the ASEAN leaders here in Washington, DC for a special summit this spring,” Biden told reporters.
The exact dates of the special summit have not been announced yet, but it is expected to be held soon. Biden’s announcement during his meeting with Prime Minister Lee reflects the significance he attaches to his Indo-Pacific policy.
Singapore and the United States are both committed to freedom of navigation as well as the unimpeded flow of maritime commerce in the South China Sea, Biden said.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, established in 1967, is a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee welcomed the decision.
“We welcome his intention to host an ASEAN-US special summit here soon. It’s a strong affirmation of American commitment to Southeast Asia and to ASEAN centrality. The President and I discussed the importance of the US growing both its strategic and economic stakes in the Asia Pacific,” Lee said.
Biden said the US and Singapore are working to uphold a rules-based international order supporting the founding principles of the United Nations and advance a future for the Indo-Pacific that is both free and open.
“We also discussed a wide range of concerns for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. That includes ensuring that all nations in the region, including China, uphold the principles that enable a free and open region. Singapore and the United States are both committed to freedom of navigation as well as an unimpeded flow of maritime commerce in the South China Sea,” he said, amidst China’s aggressive actions in the region.
Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Beijing has impeded commercial activity like fishing or mineral exploration by countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, claiming that the ownership of territory belonged to China for hundreds of years. The vast region is rich in fish stocks and undersea minerals. It has key sea lanes through which nearly USD 5 trillion in global trade travels annually.
Singapore is the second largest Asian investor in the US, and the US is the largest investor in Singapore. Singapore’s investments in the US and US exports to Singapore support over a quarter million American jobs. On the defence front, Singapore is a major security cooperation partner of the US, in fact, the only country with this status, he said.
Lee said it is important to advance a positive economic agenda that’s open, inclusive, up to date, and flexible. “We therefore welcome America’s proposed Indo-Pacific economic framework which will strengthen America’s engagement in the evolving, regional, economic architecture. I discussed with the President his recent visit to Europe and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine,” he said.

SourcePTI
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