President Joe Biden will meet with Southeast Asian leaders in mid-May, the host country announced Saturday.
The summit, initially set for March, “will highlight the United States’ lasting commitment to ASEAN,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to becoming a trusted partner in Southeast Asia,” the statement stated.
The summit, initially scheduled for March 28 and 29, has been postponed to May 12 and 13. The summit was postponed due to schedule issues among ASEAN leaders and the escalating Ukraine crisis.
The US has long stated that building ties with Asia was a priority. On March 29, Biden met with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House, pledging to keep the area “free and open” despite growing power China’s aspirations to control international trade routes.
In October, Biden took part in a virtual ASEAN meeting. Biden announced measures to deepen US participation with ASEAN on COVID-19, climate change, economic growth, and more, according to Psaki.
The US is facing a tough rivalry with China, despite other pressing crises like the haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Ukraine crisis.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, among others. Several of them are increasingly at odds with Beijing.
The US announcement Saturday left unclear whether Myanmar’s leaders would attend. A “genocide” targeting the Rohingya minority, the administration claims.
Since the military took power in a coup in 2021, ASEAN has tried in vain to find a diplomatic solution.