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Trump Invites ASEAN Leaders to ‘Special Summit’ in US

BANGKOK – US President Donald Trump has invited the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to a “special summit” in the US early next year after skipping their ongoing Thailand annual conference.
Robert O’Brien, National Security Advisor Trump sent in his absence, received Trump’s invitation to read at a US-ASEAN meeting on Monday on the sidelines of the 10-nation Southeast Asian Nations Association Summit in a letter.
Presidencies or prime ministers would normally attend Monday’s meeting with the US Seven out of 10 Southeast Asian countries then sent their foreign ministers in a marked adherence to the diplomatic protocol.
Only Thailand’s host Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-cha and Vietnam and Laos prime ministers joined O’Brien and other countries ‘ foreign ministers.
Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence to the annual ASEAN Summit and related meetings last year. This year, during the meetings, both he and Pence have been busy campaigning, wrapping up Monday in the suburbs of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, in addition to O’Brien, also traveled to Bangkok with a trade delegation that is visiting the region.
Following Trump’s apparent downgrading of the ASEAN gathering, US companies and government tried to demonstrate America’s contribution to the region with a private-led conference attended by around 1,000 business and government officials.
There, Ross presented a slew of US trade and investment estimates and what Washington has called the “Indo-Pacific zone.” “The Trump administration is extremely involved and fully committed to this area,” Ross said to the conference.
O’Brien made a swipe to China in his own remarks at the meeting with ASEAN leaders, saying that Beijing “used intimidation to try to stop ASEAN nations.
“The world has no interest in a new colonial age in which a big country would govern the idea that might make the right for others. America supports the independence of our ASEAN mates,” he said.
Members of ASEAN include Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. We form a rapidly growing regional market of almost 650 million people.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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