HANOI, Vietnam—USA On Saturday, the third year in a row that the US serves a lower rank, President Donald Trump missed a virtual summit with his Southeast Asian counterparts.
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said that Trump regretted that he did not participate in the on-line summit, but stressed the importance of relations with the region with the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations.
“The strategic relationship between the U.S. and ASEAN was much more critical in the time of the global crisis when we work together to fight coronavirus,” says O’Brien during a comment at the opening ceremonies that ASEAN members of their respective countries watched.
In 2017, Trump attended the ASEAN Summit, but only sent the last two delegates. The COVID-19 pandemic knocked off a rare ASEAN summit that he will hold in Las Vegas in March.
Trump is busy questioning the outcome of Democrat Joe Biden’s November 3 presidential campaign, arguing that he was the victim of electoral fraud. Biden has been regarded by most countries as triumphant.
O’Brien will also represent the U.S. at the Eastern Asia virtual summit with the ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea later Saturday, the White House announced in a tweet. While Trump is absent, the ASEAN report claimed that the policy of Washington to fight China’s increasing dominance in the region remains essential to his vision of a “Free and Transparency Indo-Pacific.”
Chinese presence will grow in the area with a major Sunday free-trade deal. Like ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand the pactor, which covers about a third of the global economy.
India endorsed last year’s strategy and, despite the US $2 trillion in trade with the region, it does not include the US.
Sunday, with trade touching over $354 trillion last year, O’Brien has proclaimed ASEAN to be America’s fourth-largest trading partner.
“We greatly appreciate contributions of ASEAN partners in ensuring the functioning of main supply chains, factories and EPIs,” he said, referring to personal coronavirus security equipment.
He noted that the U.S. had donated $87 million to the war against coronavirus in Southeast Asia, including American-made ventilators and PPE.
“The United States has your hand, and we know that you have ours,” he said.
The Associate Press