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Asean Latest: Biden to Discuss Pandemic Recovery, Energy Prices

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President Joe Biden arrived in Cambodia on Saturday, kicking off a five-day swing through Asia for a series of summits that will include his first in-person meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden arrived in Cambodia on Saturday, kicking off a five-day swing through Asia for a series of summits that will include his first in-person meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Biden is the first US leader since 2017 to attend the meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, during which he plans to emphasize his vision for a free and open Asia Pacific to counter China’s growing military and technological assertiveness.

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He said ahead of a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that there was a long agenda to go through, ranging from the pandemic recovery to tackling rising energy prices. 

Biden plans to hold discussions with several Asian leaders, including those from US allies South Korea and Japan. Biden is set to cross paths with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the East Asia Summit on Sunday before meeting Xi on Monday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali.

Highlights:

  • Biden to Tell Xi to Help With North Korea or Face More US Drills
  • China’s Li Says Nation to Boost Cooperation With Asean on Trade
  • China, Cambodia to Crack Down on Online Gambling, Telecom Scams
  • Indonesia Proposes Ban on Myanmar Junta Beyond Asean Summits
  • Biden Gets Key Break as Southeast Asia Bolsters Militaries 

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Here are the latest developments. All times Cambodia. 

Biden Says Long Agenda to Get Through (4:39 p.m.)

US President Joe Biden said there was a long agenda to get through, ranging from the pandemic recovery to tackling rising energy prices. 

Ahead of a bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Biden said the US was committed to the return of democracy to Myanmar. 

“We have a long agenda today, I know, and I’m anxious to get to it,” Biden told Hun Sen. 

Kishida Briefly Chats With Chinese Premier Li (4:30 p.m.)

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told Premier Li Keqiang he wanted to build a stable and constructive relationship with China in the first face-to-face conversation in about three years, according to Kyodo News. 

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Kishida’s conversation with Li lasted several minutes, according to Kyodo. Li also talked about the importance of bilateral ties, it said. 

Kishida will meet South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Sunday, Kyodo reported, citing the Japanese government. 

Albanese Says G-20 Meeting With Xi Not Finalized (1:43 p.m.)

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was waiting to finalize a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 summit next week. “It’s a constructive thing if a meeting takes place,” he said, adding such arrangements at summits are usually last minute.

He also blasted Russia over the war in Ukraine and said he would not be seeking to meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “Certainly, yesterday’s revelations as well that some of the cyber-attacks in Australia have originated in Russia is a wake up call that Russia has a responsibility to stop criminal activity that’s having a real impact.”

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Australia Names Ex-Macquarie CEO as Southeast Asia Envoy (1:33 p.m)

Albanese appointed former Macquarie CEO Nicholas Moore as the special envoy for Southeast Asia in a bid to deepen engagement with the region. 

Moore is the current Chair of the Financial Regulator Assessment Authority. He is also a member of the University of New South Wales’ Business School Advisory Council.

Ukraine Says Wanted to Meet with China’s Li at Asean (11:38 a.m.)

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he wanted to meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the sidelines of the Asean summit but plans had fallen through.

“We will be seeking for another occasion to speak,” Kuleba told reporters, adding that both countries were maintaining dialog “to make sure China uses its leverage on Russia to make them stop the war.”

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Ukraine’s top diplomat said his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov did not ask for a meeting. “If he does we will thoroughly consider his request,” Kuleba said. But there is “not one indication Russia wants negotiations.”

US, China Tensions Undermine World’s Capacity for Challenges, UN Says (10:52 a.m.)

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said US and China live by two different sets of rules, currencies and strategies for technology that will “undermine the world’s capacity to respond to the dramatic challenges we face.”

Guterres said he is urging the Group of 20 to look at helping countries in the global south that have first been battered by the pandemic and are now struggling with higher food prices due to the war in Ukraine and crippling debt. “A stimulus package is needed to help governments in these developing countries that are struggling,” he told reporters in Cambodia. 

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Russian Foreign Minister Arrives in Cambodia (10:35 a.m.)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Cambodia in place of President Vladimir Putin, who will not be attending Asean, APEC and G-20 meetings. 

Putin to Skip G-20 Indonesia Summit, Facing Cold Shoulder

Biden to Tell Xi to Help With North Korea or Face More Drills (9:06 a.m.)

Biden will warn Chinese leader Xi Jinping of an expanded US military presence in the region if Beijing doesn’t help rein in North Korean military provocations, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters. 

Sullivan said North Korea is a threat to the US, Japan, South Korea and to “peace and stability across the entire region.” Biden won’t make any demand of Xi but will share his perspective, Sullivan added.

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South Korea Urges Closer Political Ties Among Asian States (8:40 a.m.)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol urged closer political cooperation between Asian states, including Japan and China, amid growing challenges from food insecurity to human rights violations.

“Such complex crises, I’ve always emphasized, must be overcome through solidarity and cooperation,” he told a gathering of regional leaders in Cambodia, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. “In each area of politics, economy, society and culture we must forge closer cooperation and solidarity.”

Biden Arrives in Cambodia, Set to Join Asian Leaders (8:10 a.m.)

President Joe Biden landed in Cambodia on Saturday where he will meet with leaders of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other Asian heads of state. During his stay, he will also cross paths with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the East Asia Summit on Sunday ahead of his meeting with counterpart Xi Jinping in Bali.

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The trip to Southeast Asia is Biden’s first since his presidency, and comes at a time Washington is seeking to advance its role as a security partner among Asian nations that count on Beijing as its biggest trading partner. The White House has said it is hoping Biden’s trip to the region will help bolster that status.

South Korea Sees Prosperous Indo-Pacific via Supply Chains (4:20 p.m.)

South Korea will contribute to building a prosperous Indo-Pacific by helping to enhance the region’s supply chains and bolster economic security, President Yoon Suk Yeol said in his first summit meeting with Asean leaders.

“Cooperative, inclusive economic and technology ecosystems will be fostered to attain shared prosperity,” he told the gathering of leaders. “The Indo-Pacific is home to 65% of the world’s population and over 60% of its GDP. Half of the global seaborne cargo travels through the region.”

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Marcos Wants Early Conclusion of South China Sea Code of Conduct (3:48 p.m.)

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos pushed for an early conclusion for putting together a code of conduct for the South China Sea that has dragged on for decades. 

“I welcome the progress on textual negotiations on the COC this past year and hopefully an approved code of conduct in the very near future,” Marcos in remarks made during Asean leaders meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and published by his government. 

China, Cambodia to Crack Down on Online Gambling, Telecom Scams (3:44 p.m.)

The two countries will deepen law enforcement cooperation, working together to crack down on human trafficking, online gambling, telecom scams and related crimes, according to a China-Cambodia joint communique published after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s meetings with Cambodian officials. 

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China Hails Growing Economic Ties With Southeast Asia (2:30 p.m.)

Premier Li Keqiang said ties with Southeast Asia “has gone from strength to strength” with two-way trade reaching nearly $800 billion in the first ten months, a 13.8% increase on year.

“This is particularly notable given the impact of Covid-19 and complex international landscape,” Li told regional leaders at a meeting. He also said that Asean and China have advanced security cooperation and that Beijing supports “efforts to properly address matters” related to disputes in the South China Sea.

Asean Agrees to Admit Timor-Leste as 11th Member (12:43 p.m.)

Regional leaders agreed in principle on Friday to admit Timor-Leste into the Association of Southeast Asian and will become its 11th member, according to a statement.

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The tiny country of less than two million people has been chasing ascension for years. As part of the agreement, Timor-Leste will be granted observer status and allowed participation in all Asean meetings including the summit plenaries.

Indonesia Proposes Extending Myanmar Junta Ban (12:35 p.m.)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo told reporters Friday that he proposed Asean bar representatives of the Myanmar military regime from functions beyond big-ticket summits.

Immediately after Widodo’s statement, the Thai government said that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha saw Asean’s role in the Myanmar situation as important and crucial. “All parties need to work together to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need in Myanmar,” a government statement cited Prayuth as saying. 

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