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Biden to work with Kingdom, develop US-ASEAN relations

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A combination photo of Prime Minister Hun Sen and US President Joe Biden. SPM, POTUS VIA TWITTER

Biden to work with Kingdom, develop US-ASEAN relations

US President Joe Biden said his administration looks forward to working with Cambodia as chair of ASEAN, and that the US hopes ASEAN-US relations will continue to develop.

In a January 14 letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Biden wrote: “Under Cambodia’s chairmanship, the United States hopes to both grow our relationship with ASEAN and continue to pursue our common goals in the region.”

He added that the US is committed to ASEAN centrality and remains steadfast in its support for an ASEAN-centered “regional architecture” – a coherent network of bilateral agreements and organizations – at the heart of the Indo-Pacific region.

Biden also reiterated his intent to invite ASEAN leaders to join him in Washington for a special summit in the coming months.

Responding to Joe Biden’s letter, Hun Sen thanked Biden for expressing his intention to invite the bloc’s leaders to attend the summit. He also expressed appreciation for Biden’s desire to further strengthen the relations between ASEAN and the US under Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2022.

The premier reiterated Cambodia’s strong commitment and full support for the US to convene the summit in Washington.

“I am confident that the Summit will provide a good opportunity for us to exchange views on how to further advance the ASEAN-US cooperation. I look forward to working closely with you and seeing you in person in Washington,” he wrote in his letter dated February 1.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, told The Post on February 6 that ASEAN remains at the heart of US foreign policy and a major trading partner that could help curb the growing influence its strategic rival China. He also expects that the US will increase its presence in ASEAN in the near future.

Mengdavid added that Cambodia should urge the US to support the Kingdom, together with ASEAN, in resolving the ongoing crisis in Myanmar through the provision of humanitarian assistance, support for ASEAN’s five-point consensus – which chiefly seeks to facilitate negotiations and mediation of the dialogue process – and by continuing to support the core principles of ASEAN centrality.

Alongside the Myanmar issue, the summit will see Cambodia and other ASEAN countries discussing the matter of “finding common solutions and mechanisms for post-Covid-19 ASEAN economic recovery and regional security cooperation,” he added.

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