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Biden to host summit in May with Southeast Asian leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will welcome leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Washington next month for a summit, the White House announced Saturday.

The May 12-13 gathering is intended to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to being a partner with countries in the region.

The White House previously announced the summit would be held on March 28-29, but the regional grouping of countries known as ASEAN requested a postponement due to scheduling issues among some of its members.

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The summit will commemorate 45 years of relations between the United States and ASEAN countries. The rally follows Biden’s participation in an October 2021 summit where he announced $102 million in new initiatives to help those countries with COVID-19 and health security, climate change, economic growth and climate change. gender equality.

“It is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration to serve as a strong and reliable partner in Southeast Asia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Saturday. “Our shared aspirations for the region will continue to underpin our shared commitment to advancing a free and open, secure, connected and resilient Indo-Pacific.”

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

Its members are at odds with each other over Myanmar, which has been wracked by violent unrest since the military toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February last year.

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ASEAN is seeking to implement a five-point plan for Myanmar that it came up with last year, emphasizing dialogue, humanitarian assistance and an end to violence. But Myanmar’s ruling military council delayed implementation of the plan even as the country slipped into what some UN experts have described as a civil war.

Lack of cooperation from Myanmar led ASEAN last year to ban its leader, 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 operated by consensus.

He applied a similar policy for subsequent meetings, saying he would allow Myanmar to send only non-political representatives.

Biden hosted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for talks last month in which the president tried to assure 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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