KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — The working visit by US President Joe Biden to attend the Asean-related summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia starting Saturday (November 12), is set to herald in a new phase in the US-Asean relations.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said the visit is a testament of US strong support for Asean centrality as it seeks to deepen partnership with Asean in all sectors, aiming at building a stable and prosperous Indo Pacific region.
He said as this year’s summits occur against the backdrop of persistently high inflation, growing food insecurity, sharply rising borrowing costs, and slowing economic growth, Biden’s visit to the region also demonstrates the US commitment to working cooperatively with Asean members, other allies and partners to address these global challenges through concrete actions.
Kritenbrink said among the agendas expected to be highlighted by Biden and his Asean partners at the meetings including the trade, regional peace and stability as well as the crisis in Myanmar and the ongoing Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“We’re focused on our affirmative, positive agenda that we bring to the table – everything from highlighting our large and growing trade relationship with Asean, massive investments by the US private sector across the region, our contribution to regional peace and stability and security, including in the South China Sea.
“We’ll highlight the growing ties between the American people and the peoples of Asean, talk about ways we can combat climate change, and again, combat pandemic disease and a whole host of other issues,” he said in a telephonic press briefing with media in the Southeast Asia region on Thursday night.
“Our top priority in the Indo-Pacific is to solidify the latticework of strong and mutually reinforcing coalitions to build the collective capacity of our partners, friends, and allies so that we can together tackle shared challenges and seize common opportunities,” he added.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Asean Yohannes Abraham who also joined in the press briefing said the US is excited about the future of its partnership with Asean.
“I think success at these summits from our perspective is a further deepening of our critical relationship with Asean, that means talking through and charting a path to work together on a whole host of critical issues, and be they challenges or opportunities,” he said.
President Biden will participate in the 10th Asean-US Summit and 17th East Asia Summit, to be held in conjunction with the 40th and 41st Asean Summits and related summit which begins today.
From Phnom Penh, he will travel to Bali, Indonesia to attend the G20 Leaders Summit.
Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris will be attending the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Bangkok on November 18 to close out Thailand’s host year and to take the reins as the US prepares to host APEC in 2023.
Kritenbrink said hosting the APEC in 2023 will provide the US with a unique opportunity to showcase its economic leadership and multilateral cooperation in the region, and to highlight the vital importance of international economic engagement in promoting prosperity at home in the United States.
“We also plan to use our host year to further the conversation on economic inclusion, including by sharing the US experience with women’s economic empowerment, disability rights, and the inclusion of ethnic minorities and immigrant and refugee communities,” he added.