Cambodia says ASEAN-US summit postponed, seeking new date

Reuters

Posted at Mar 10 2022 01:13 AM

US President Joe Biden participates virtually in the annual US-ASEAN Summit from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, USA, October 26, 2021. It is the first time a US president has participated in the summit since 2017. Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA-EFE
US President Joe Biden participates virtually in the annual US-ASEAN Summit from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, USA, October 26, 2021. It is the first time a US president has participated in the summit since 2017. Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA-EFE

PHNOM PENH—A summit between US President Joe Biden and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) due to be held later this month has been postponed and organizers will seek a new date, Cambodia's foreign minister told Reuters on Wednesday.

"It has been postponed to a later date because some ASEAN leaders cannot attend the meeting on the proposed dates," Minister Prak Sokhonn said in a text message. Cambodia is the current chair of ASEAN.

The United States had announced the summit would be held on March 28 and 29.

But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested this week that the meeting should be delayed after some ASEAN countries had asked for it to be held 2 days earlier.

Indonesia, which is the coordinator of the summit, did not immediately confirm the postponement after an official earlier said options for the schedule were still being discussed.

The summit is seen as part of U.S. efforts to step up engagement with a region Washington sees as critical to its efforts to push back against China's growing power. It had been expected earlier in the year, but was delayed by COVID-19 concerns.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last month the summit in Washington was "a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration" and that it would also commemorate 45 years of U.S.-ASEAN relations.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in December the summit was expected to discuss the crisis caused by last year's military coup in Myanmar and issues such as pandemic recovery, climate change, investment and infrastructure.

The United States said last week it intended to follow ASEAN's lead by inviting a non-political representative from military-ruled Myanmar to the summit.

The bloc has since last year barred the junta from key meetings over its failure to honor an agreement to end hostilities in Myanmar that have killed hundreds of civilians and displaced more than 300,000.

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