Biden announces $102M to support Southeast Asian nations
President Biden on Tuesday announced the U.S. will provide $102 million to support Southeast Asia nations’ recovery from COVID-19, address climate change, promote economic growth and develop human capital.
The president met virtually with leaders of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) member states and the ASEAN secretary general for the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit on Tuesday morning.
The over $100 million financial commitment is for new initiatives to expand the U.S.-ASEAN Strategic Partnership as Biden has focused much of his foreign policy around China and worked to bulk up the U.S. presence in the Pacific.
Biden on Tuesday called ASEAN “essential … to the regional architecture of the Indo-Pacific” and a “lynchpin” to security in “our shared region.”
“I want you all to hear directly from me the importance the United States places on its relationship with ASEAN,” he said. “You can expect to see me showing up and reaching out to you.”
Biden also highlighted new efforts to expand U.S.-ASEAN cooperation in health, climate, energy, transportation and gender empowerment and reiterated the U.S. commitment to provide 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and over $200 million in emergency assistance to ASEAN member states to fight COVID-19.
The virtual summit included Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, among others.
The president also discussed the violence in Burma during the virtual meeting and “called on the country’s military regime to immediately end the violence, release those unjustly detained, and restore Burma’s path to democracy,” according to the White House.
ASEAN denied a seat at the summit to Myanmar’s junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, who led the Feb. 1 coup in the country.
“We will continue to stay focused on our steadfast support for the people of Burma, for a democratic path in Burma and for the protection of the safety, security, and human rights of the citizens in that country,” National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday after the summit.
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