President Joe Biden will host a special ASEAN summit in Washington next month.
Meetings with Southeast Asian leaders on May 12-13 are taking place against the backdrop of an ongoing global pandemic, heightened concerns about China’s ambitions as Russia wages war on Ukraine, and tensions between the United States and Myanmar – a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – over a campaign against the Rohingya minority which the Biden administration recently called “genocide.”
“It is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration to serve as a strong and reliable partner in Southeast Asia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Saturday. “Our shared aspirations for the region will continue to underpin our shared commitment to advancing a free and open, secure, connected and resilient Indo-Pacific.”
PSAKI said Biden would build on pledges made by the United States at an ASEAN meeting in October, which included $102 million dedicated to initiatives in health, environment, economy and gender equality. The United States is not a member of ASEAN, but has worked closely with the group and its members to counter China’s influence in the eastern hemisphere.