WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The White House said on Saturday that President Joe Biden will host a summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington next month.
The May 12-13 meeting is meant to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to partnering with countries in the region.
The White House had previously announced that the summit would be held on March 28-29, but the regional grouping of countries known as ASEAN sought to postpone it due to scheduling concerns among some of its members.
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The summit will celebrate 45 years of ties between the US and ASEAN countries. The gathering follows Biden’s participation at the October 2021 summit, where he announced $102 million in new initiatives to help these countries with COVID-19 and health security, climate change, economic development and gender equality.
“Serving as a strong, reliable partner in Southeast Asia is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Saturday. “Our shared aspirations for the region will continue to underscore our shared commitment to advance an Indo-Pacific region that is free and open, secure, connected and resilient.”
The 10 members of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Its members have been at odds with Myanmar over violent unrest since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February last year.
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ASEAN has been calling for Myanmar to implement the five-point plan reached last year, emphasizing on dialogue, humanitarian aid and an end to violence. But Myanmar’s ruling military council has delayed implementation of the plan, while the country has slipped into a situation that some UN experts have described as a civil war.
Last year, ASEAN barred its leader, Senior General Min Aung Huling, from attending its annual summit due to a lack of Myanmar’s cooperation, an unprecedented move for a body whose members have traditionally held public meetings with each other. Avoid criticism and operate by consensus.
It has implemented a similar policy for subsequent meetings, saying it would allow Myanmar to send only non-political representatives.
Biden hosted Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for talks last month, in which the president sought to reassure Singapore and other Pacific allies to work with Europe and other allies to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Despite this, the administration is focused on this area.