WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – The US government has announced new initiatives and projects of the USA with the Association of Southeast Asian States ASEAN in the amount of around 150 million US dollars (around 144 million euros). “This is something we are very proud of. We believe this reflects a strengthening of ties,” said a US government official. “We must increase our engagement in Southeast Asia and work more closely with Asean in this regard.” US President Joe Biden received the association’s heads of state and government on Thursday evening in the White House. The actual summit will take place this Friday.
The USA announced, among other things, 40 million US dollars (around 36 million euros) for clean energy infrastructure in Southeast Asia. “We will expand regional energy trade and accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies, which we see as critical not only to combating climate change in this fast-growing region, but also to supporting broad-based economic growth in Southeast Asian countries,” it said.
Around 60 million US dollars (around 58 million euros) are to be invested in new regional maritime initiatives. A US Coast Guard vessel is to be deployed to Southeast Asia to promote security cooperation and serve as a training platform, the government official said. Additional funds go to digitization or law enforcement projects, for example.
Asean is a member of ten countries, including Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Biden had already promised the countries closer cooperation in a video link last October. The US President is paying particular attention to this – also to counter China’s growing thirst for power.
“As far as China is concerned, the country is of course an important player in the region,” said the government representative. Asean countries are not asked to choose between China and the US. However, they want to make it clear that the US government is seeking stronger relations with the Asean countries and recognizes that it must respond to the wishes of the countries in the region.
Biden and the heads of state and heads of government from Asia took the group photo traditionally customary at such summits on Thursday evening (local time) in the South Garden of the White House. Biden then gave dinner for the guests.
The meeting in Washington is also said to be about Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the situation in Myanmar after the military coup of February last year. Myanmar officials will not attend the summit. The US government has imposed sanctions on the military regime in the country./cy/nau/DP/zb