Biden will host Southeast Asian leaders for the summit on 12-13. May

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden will host leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington next month for a summit, the White House said Saturday.

It is intended that the meeting on 12-13. May will demonstrate the United States’ commitment to partner with countries in the region.

The White House had previously announced that the summit would be held 28-29. March, but the regional group of countries known as ASEAN sought a postponement due to planning problems among some of its members.

The summit will celebrate 45 years of US-ASEAN relations. The meeting follows Biden’s participation in a October 2021 summit announcing $ 102 million in new initiatives to help these countries with COVID-19 and health security, climate change, economic growth and gender equality.

“It is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration to serve as a strong, reliable partner in Southeast Asia,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Saturday in a statement. “Our shared ambitions for the region will continue to support our shared commitment to promoting an Indo-Pacific region that is free and open, safe, connected and resilient.”

ASEAN’s 10 members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Its members have been at loggerheads over Myanmar, which has been plagued by violent unrest since the army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February last year.

ASEAN seeks to implement a five-point plan for Myanmar, which it reached last year, which emphasizes dialogue, humanitarian aid and an end to violence. But Myanmar’s ruling military council has delayed the implementation of the plan, even though the country has slipped into a situation that some UN experts have described as civil war.

Myanmar’s lack of cooperation led ASEAN last year to prevent its leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, from attending its annual summit, an unprecedented step for the body whose members have traditionally avoided public criticism of each other and acted by consensus.

It has applied a similar policy to subsequent meetings, saying it will allow Myanmar to send non-political representatives only.

Biden hosted Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at talks last month in which the president tried to reassure Singapore and other Pacific allies that the administration remains focused on the region, even while working with Europe and other allies to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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