US-ASEAN pact to tackle ‘biggest issues of our time,’ says Biden in Cambodia

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US President Joe Biden on Saturday (November 12) held talks with Southeast Asian leaders during Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cambodia. Biden hailed the new US-ASEAN pact as a critical which will help tackling “the biggest issue of our time.”

This was Biden’s first visit to Southeast Asia as a president. The US president said that the region was at the heart of his administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy and Washington was committing resources, not just rhetoric, under a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

“Together we will tackle the biggest issues of our time, from climate, to health security, to defend against the significant threat to the rule-based order,” he said, opening a meeting in Cambodia with leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“We will build an Indo Pacific that’s free and open, stable and prosperous, and resilient and secure,” he added.

ASEAN is engaging a host of leaders, including Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Biden’s presence comes as the United States seeks to reassert itself after a period of regional uncertainty about its commitment under US predecessor Donald Trump, and concerted efforts by rival China to boost its influence and fill the void.

(With inputs from agencies)

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