US promises Southeast Asian allies at key summit political news

Welcoming regional leaders to the summit in Washington, DC, Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States is committed to a long-term engagement in Southeast Asia.

Speaking at the State Department on Friday, Harris told the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that the Biden administration “recognizes the crucial strategic importance of your region, and that this role will increase over time.”

“As an Indo-Pacific nation, the United States will emerge and will be engaged in Southeast Asia for generations to come,” she said.

This is the first time in 45 years that an ASEAN leader has been invited to the White House. In 2016, President Obama became the first US leader to host a summit in Rancho Mirage, California.

While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is on the agenda, the Biden administration wants to show that Washington is focusing on Asia-Pacific as Beijing strengthens in the region.

Tensions between the US and China have escalated in recent years over a number of issues, including Taiwan and the South China Sea, which China almost claims despite competing claims from other countries in the region.

The war in Ukraine has already tested volatile relations and senior US officials, including President Joe Biden, have repeatedly warned the Chinese government not to help Russia continue its offensive.

The opening session of the ASEAN conference in the US State Department on Friday focused on maritime security and health issues, while subsequent meetings focused on climate and clean energy, Harris said.

She did not mention China directly, but said the United States had “worked with allies and partners to protect the freedom of navigation and the rule of law-based order, including international law.”

Biden, who took office in January 2021, said his top foreign policy priority was global competition with China and that he would address the leaders later on Friday.

His administration promised $ 150 million in new programs at the summit, including support for maritime security, and the US Coast Guard will deploy speedboats to Southeast Asia to fight poaching and other crimes.

Biden is expected to announce a comprehensive package called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework when he visits Japan and South Korea next week.

Prior to meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said he would like to see coordination between the Indo-Pacific economic framework and the implementation of cooperation under the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Outlook.

Marsudi stressed that Indonesia, which will host the G20 summit in July, wants to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible.

Indonesia has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the summit and called on the United States to keep him alone. Despite the call, an agreement stated that they would also welcome Ukrainian President Vladimir Zhelensky.

“On global issues, I would like to reiterate that Indonesia’s principles are very consistent with the importance of respecting the territorial integrity of one country and the sovereignty of another,” Masood said.

“We want the war in Ukraine to end as soon as possible and we want the conflict to succeed for a peaceful solution, because we know that if the war continues, we will all suffer.”

Blinken thanked Mars for Indonesia’s leadership in the region.

“We are working together across the board to advance the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. We are working to strengthen economic ties between countries in the region. We are working together to address global challenges such as COVID-19, ”he said.

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