US President Joe Biden opened the US-ASEAN summit with financial promises yesterday, bringing Southeast Asian leaders together in Washington for the first time in history.
The two-day summit saw leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) attending a dinner at the White House ahead of talks at the State Department on Friday, Reuters reports.
The group took a photo on the South Lawn of the White House prior to dinner.
President Joe Biden began the summit by promising to spend USD 150 million on infrastructure, security, pandemic preparedness, and other efforts for the benefit of ASEAN nations.
Biden is expected to speak at length about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hoping to show leaders that it remains focused on Southeast Asia despite the ongoing conflict in Europe.
The new financial commitment offered by the US will extend to a USD 40 million investment in infrastructure to assist in decarbonizing the region’s power supply.
A further USD 60 million will be spent on maritime security, with USD 15 million going to health funding and early detection of Covid-19 and other pandemics. Additional funds will go toward helping the development of digital economies and laws governing artificial intelligence.
The US is also to send a Coast Guard ship to Southeast Asia which it is said will provide assistance to local fleets in combatting illegal fishing.
Eight ASEAN leaders are expected to take part in talks, while Myanmar leadership is not attending the summit.