Biden hails 'critical' ties while hosting ASEAN leaders for summit

Biden hails 'critical' ties while hosting ASEAN leaders for summit
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WASHINGTON (May 14): US President Joe Biden on Friday (May 13) hailed relations with Asian partners, saying the US relationship with Southeast Asian nations is "critical" to meeting shared challenges, reported Anadolu Agency.

"We're committed to a future where the rules and norms that have made possible so much growth and prosperity, and stability Indo-Pacific are upheld and strengthened, including respect for the rule of law and for human rights," Biden said in brief remarks open to the press.

"This is something that benefits all one billion of the people who live in our countries from the US and all of you. And as we look around the world, all the challenges we're facing, the ASEAN-US partnership is critical, I think, to meeting the moment we find ourselves in history right now," he added.

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a union of 10 countries in the region, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Biden announced an additional US$150 million (about RM659.7 million) to further bolster cooperation during Friday's special summit after pledging US$100 million in October.

The White House previously said the new funding package is expected to spur billions of dollars in additional private investments "that will deepen US-ASEAN relations, strengthen ASEAN centrality and expand our common capacity to achieve our shared objectives".

Roughly US$60 million is slated to go towards new regional maritime initiatives, including additional Coast Guard deployments in the Indo-Pacific region, and the transfer of Coast Guard cutter boats to regional nations.

Biden has re-emphasised relations in Asia amid great power competition with China. He is slated to travel next week to South Korea and Japan amid mounting ballistic missiles threats from Pyongyang, and an anticipated seventh nuclear test.

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