Washington/Bandar Seri Beguan: US President Joe Biden will participate in a virtual summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday, and for the first time in four years, Washington will participate at the highest level with a bloc it considers essential. for its strategy of retreating from China.

The US embassy in Brunei told Reuters that Biden will lead the US delegation to the ASEAN-US Summit, part of a series of ASEAN leaders’ meetings this week.

The White House said Biden would discuss the United States’ “enduring” commitment to ASEAN’s central role in regional affairs and new initiatives to advance the United States’ strategic partnership with the bloc, “as we work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic, address the climate crisis, promote economic growth, and address a range of challenges and opportunities.” other regional.

The United States has not joined the meetings at the presidential level since Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, attended the ASEAN-US meeting in Manila in 2017.

Analysts say Biden’s meeting with the 10-nation bloc reflects his administration’s efforts to engage allies and partners in a collective effort to strike back at China.

However, US officials have not specifically mentioned China in the lead up to the meeting as they are working on a virtual summit between Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this year.

They expect Biden to focus on cooperation in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, climate, supply chains, and infrastructure.

He is also expected to assure ASEAN that the US’s recent focus on engagement with India, Japan and Australia in the so-called Quartet and an agreement to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines is not intended to replace ASEAN’s central regional role.

Edgard Kagan, senior director for East Asia at the White House National Security Council, emphasized https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-says-deliving-vaccine-pledge-asia-key-quad-credibility — 20-10-2021 last week that Washington does not see the Quartet as the “Asian NATO” and that it does not mean to compete with ASEAN.

He said Washington had an interest in working with ASEAN to ensure supply chain resilience, on climate, and address “common challenges on maritime issues” – an apparent reference to China’s extensive claims in the disputed South China Sea.

“This will be Biden’s first meeting with ASEAN leaders as president, so he will want to assure them that Southeast Asia is important to his administration,” said Murray Hebert, an expert on Southeast Asia at the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Hebert said ASEAN leaders would be excited to hear about any US plans to ramp up the provision of COVID-19 vaccines in the region, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, and how Washington plans to engage in trade, investment and infrastructure.

Biden has shown no sign of any plan to return to the regional trade framework that Trump withdrew from in 2017, and an Asian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the lack of an economic component in US regional engagement was a huge gap.

“The most important piece for the region is the economic piece,” the diplomat said. “We’re kind of stuck that the region says, ‘It has put in place a strategic kind of competitive structure with China, but that doesn’t benefit the region at all.’” Meanwhile, we all have growing economic ties with China.”

The ASEAN meetings will be held without Myanmar’s military commander Min Aung Hlaing, who overthrew a civilian government on February 1 – a rare exception to a gathering usually known for non-interference.

Kagan described the move as an important one https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/asean-summit-without-myanmar-leader-significant-not-enough-us-2021-10-20 but said there are More is needed to address the challenges facing Myanmar.

Disclaimer: This post was automatically published from the agency feed without any text modifications and has not been reviewed by an editor

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