US President Joe Biden to Host ASEAN Leaders for Special Summit

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US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden (Photo: White House)

US President Joe Biden is to host leaders from ASEAN countries in a special summit aimed at stepping up engagement with the region.

President Biden announced plans to hold the special summit with Southeast Asian leaders on 28 and 29 March in order to discuss issues including investment, infrastructure, climate change, the military takeover of Myanmar, and the region’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting was expected to take place earlier this year, but was postponed due to pandemic concerns. 

The White House says this meeting is meant to mark 45 years of US-ASEAN relations and to demonstrate the US commitment to the ten nations of the ASEAN bloc.

Myanmar, however, will likely be restricted from sending any political representatives to the meeting, a policy that was in place in October 2021 when the 38th annual ASEAN summit was hosted virtually by member nation Brunei.

2021 was the first time in four years that a US President had participated in the meeting since Donald Trump’s attendance in 2017.

The Biden administration aims to make its relationships in the Pacific region a priority, and is hopeful that it will be able to maintain those relationships despite the divisive conflict in Ukraine.

In early February the administration released a 12-page plan for its strategy in the region, which includes a vow to provide the member nations more diplomatic and security resources.

Biden has also pledged to begin talks on a regional economic framework for the Indo-pacific, something that has not been in place since 2017 when former president Trump quit the trans-pacific trade pact.