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South Carolina

Biden pledges the U.S. will work with southeast Asian nations

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Joe Biden vowed on Saturday that the United States would work with a strategically vital coalition of Southeast Asian nations, telling leaders that “we will build a better future that we all want to see” in the area the place US rival China can also be working to develop its affect.

Citing the three Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits he has attended as president, Biden mentioned the 10-country bloc is “the heart of my administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy” and pledged to work collectively to construct a area that’s “free and open”. steady and affluent, resilient and safe.”

“I look forward to continuing our work with ASEAN and with each of you to deepen peace and prosperity across the region, address challenges from the South China Sea to Myanmar, and find innovative solutions to common challenges,” Biden mentioned Citing the local weather and well being safety amongst the areas of cooperation.

Biden’s efforts at this yr’s ASEAN summit are anticipated to put the groundwork for his much-anticipated assembly with Chinese President Xi Jinping — the first face-to-face assembly of Biden’s presidency with a pacesetter whose nation the US now considers its strongest financial and army rival.

Biden and Xi are set to satisfy Monday at the Group of 20 summit, which brings collectively leaders from the world’s largest economies, to be held this yr in Indonesia on the island of Bali.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan traveled to Phnom Penh early Saturday and mentioned Biden will be part of ASEAN leaders to lift points together with freedom of navigation and unlawful and unregulated fishing by China — with the purpose of US assertiveness to show in opposition to Beijing.

Freedom of navigation refers to a dispute over the South China Sea, the place the United States says it may well sail and fly wherever worldwide regulation permits, and China believes such missions are destabilizing. Sullivan mentioned the US had a key position to play as a stabilizing power in the area, stopping any nation from participating in “prolonged intimidation and coercion that would be fundamentally alien to the nations of ASEAN and other countries.”

“There’s a real demand signal for that,” Sullivan advised reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday. Referring to the People’s Republic of China, Sullivan continued, “I think the PRC may not love that fact, but it certainly recognizes and understands it.”

A brand new initiative associated to that effort, which Biden will talk about Saturday, focuses on maritime consciousness, particularly utilizing radio spectrum from business satellites to higher observe darkish transport and unlawful fishing, Sullivan mentioned.

Biden’s go to to Cambodia — the second ever by a US president — continues his administration’s push to show its investments in the South Pacific, which was highlighted earlier this yr when the White House hosted an ASEAN summit in Washington, the first of its type Art. He has additionally appointed certainly one of his senior associates, Yohannes Abraham, as ASEAN’s official envoy, one other means the White House has underscored this dedication.

ASEAN is elevating the US to “comprehensive strategic partnership” standing this yr — a largely symbolic improve of their relationship, however one which places Washington on the identical footing as China, which received the award final yr.

U.S. President Joe Biden shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen before their meeting during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Saturday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

U.S. President Joe Biden shakes palms with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier than their assembly throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Saturday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Biden opened Saturday in Phnom Penh by assembly Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia, the host of the regional summit. He additionally attended the conventional household photograph with Southeast Asian leaders – one which required a re-run as the gregarious Biden was too busy shaking palms with different heads of state – and will later attend a gala dinner hosted by a parallel summit in Cambodia will concentrate on East Asia.

Another concern Biden has centered on is Myanmar, the place the army junta overthrew the ruling authorities in February 2021 and arrested its democratically elected chief, Aung San Suu Kyi. In his assembly with Hun Sen, Biden careworn that the US is dedicated to bringing democracy again to Myanmar, which had been steadily transferring towards democratic governance previous to the coup.

Biden additionally raised human rights issues in Cambodia. In a press release after assembly Hun Sen, the White House mentioned Biden had referred to as on the prime minister — an authoritarian ruler in a nominally democratic nation — to “reopen the civic and political space” forward of the 2023 election.

According to the White House, Biden additionally urged Hun Sen to launch activists, together with Theary Seng, a Cambodian-American lawyer who was convicted of treason as a result of the prime minister’s lengthy rule was geared toward cracking down on his opposition. The White House mentioned Biden has additionally raised issues about actions at Ream Naval Base, the growth of which Cambodian officers have described as a joint effort between her and China.

There was an empty chair at the US-ASEAN summit the place a consultant of Myanmar would have sat had its leaders not been banned from attending official ASEAN conferences.

In his temporary remarks on Saturday, Biden misidentified host nation Cambodia as “Colombia,” a mistake he additionally made Thursday night time when he left the United States

Biden will attend the East Asia summits on Sunday, together with a tripartite assembly with leaders of South Korea and Japan earlier than heading to Bali for the G-20 summit.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see extra, go to https://www.npr.org.

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