Southeast Asian heads of government held talks in mid-November 2022 with visiting global leaders including United States President Joe Biden, who hailed the launch of a U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pact as a critical step toward tackling “the biggest issues of our time.”
In his first visit to Southeast Asia since taking office in January 2021, President Biden said the region is at the heart of his administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, and that Washington is committing resources, not just rhetoric, under a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
“Together we will tackle the biggest issues of our time, from climate to health security, to defend against the significant threat to the rule-based order,” he said, opening a meeting in Cambodia with leaders of the 10-member ASEAN. (Pictured: Leaders pose for a photo during the 10th ASEAN-U.S. Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in November 2022.)
“We will build an Indo-Pacific that’s free and open, stable and prosperous, and resilient and secure,” President Biden added.
The event was the first in a weeklong series of summits in Southeast Asia expected to discuss global issues including the war in Ukraine, climate change, and regional tensions over the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and North Korea’s missile test launches. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also participated.
Yoon proposed a mechanism for dialogue with Japan and the PRC to address crises such as the effects of war on food and energy security, as well as climate change.
Yoon and Kishida also criticized North Korea’s attempts to boost its nuclear and missile capabilities, calling it a serious and unacceptable threat.
In a separate exchange with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Kishida said Japan and the PRC should strive toward building a “constructive and stable” relationship.
ASEAN leaders also issued a “warning” to member state Myanmar’s military junta, who were barred from the summit, to make measurable progress on a peace plan nearly two years after they seized power in a coup.
IMAGE CREDIT: REUTERS