Biden lands in Cambodia to meet Asian allies ahead of Xi meeting

Phnom Penh Cambodia

President Joe Biden arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Saturday morning local time. A series of summits and meetings between the President of the United States and the leaders of Southeast Asian countries;

The meetings in Cambodia will mark Biden’s first face-to-face meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping ahead of an expected G20 summit in Indonesia next week. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings, along with Sunday’s East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, will be an opportunity to talk to US allies before sitting down with President Xi.

The two will meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as Biden seeks to hold a summit between Biden and ASEAN leaders in Washington earlier this year.

Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Air Force One that “the president has been committed to enhancing our engagement in the Indo-Pacific since his inauguration, and his attendance at the ASEAN and East Asia Summit this weekend will highlight his actions” so far, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and Security Cooperation announced earlier this year.

“He’s coming to this summit with goals and accomplishments behind him, and he wants to use the next 36 hours to build on this foundation to move America’s engagement forward and put a solid process in place.” Practical initiatives,” Sullivan said.

Among those practical activities are maritime cooperation, Sullivan noted that digital connectivity and business investment are new. Biden plans to launch a new maritime domain effort that will “focus on using radio frequencies from commercial satellites to track dark vessels, illegal fishing and improve the ability of regional countries to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises,” Sullivan said.

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Sullivan added that Biden will highlight a front-line position on regional defense and show that the United States is at the forefront of security cooperation.

There will also be talks focused on Myanmar, where a democratically elected government seized power in February 2021 to “continue to contain costs and increase pressure on the junta”.

Four global threats loom for Biden’s trip: Russia’s war in Ukraine; escalating tensions with China; The existential issue of climate change and the possibility of a global recession in the coming months. Other factors will come into play, such as North Korea’s escalating provocations and uncertainty over Iran’s nuclear program.

In Phnom Penh, Sullivan said Biden will meet with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Sunday after North Korea conducted several weapons tests. The meeting was notable given the historic tensions between Japan and South Korea, and the relationship between the two strong U.S. allies is one that Biden has sought to bridge.

Japan and South Korea are reportedly concerned about Kim Jong Un’s missile tests and the prospect of a seventh nuclear test. North Korea is set to conduct 32 missile tests a day in 2022 and has ramped up its tests this year, according to CNN’s calculations. That’s the latest release on Wednesday, compared to eight in 2021 and four in 2020.

Sullivan suggested that the trilateral meeting would not lead to specific deliverables, but to increased security cooperation amid threats.

Sullivan told reporters that the three world leaders would discuss broader security issues in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly threats from North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

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Sullivan said Thursday that the administration is concerned about North Korea conducting its seventh nuclear test.

“Our concern is still there. I can’t tell if it’s going to happen next week,” Sullivan said earlier this week. “We are concerned about the possibility of nuclear tests as well as further potential long-range missile tests. So we will be watching both carefully.”

But Monday’s meeting with Xi in Bali, Indonesia, will miss out on the summit in Cambodia, which will no doubt be part of the trilateral talks.

“One thing that President Biden certainly wants to do with our closest allies is to preview what he intends to do and say to (South Korean) and Japanese leaders, ‘What else do you want to say?’ What do you want me to come in with?’” Sullivan said, adding, “It’s a topic, but not a tri-state event.”

Since entering the White House, Biden and Xi have spoken by phone five times. The two traveled extensively together in China and the United States while serving as their vice presidents.

Both enter Monday’s session on the back of notable political events. Biden did better than expected in the US midterm elections, and Xi was extended to an unprecedented third term by the Chinese Communist Party.

U.S. officials declined to speculate on how the political situations of the two leaders might affect the dynamics of their meeting.

The high-stakes bilateral meeting between Biden and Xi will sharpen their understanding of each leader’s priorities, Sullivan told reporters.

Among them is the issue of Taiwan that Beijing is talking about. Biden has previously vowed to use US military force to defend the island from invasion. This issue is one of the most controversial issues between Biden and Xi.

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Sullivan said Biden will raise the issue of North Korea, stressing China’s critical role in dealing with serious threats to the region.

While Biden has so far reiterated the issue in his calls with Xi, Sullivan emphasized the U.S. view that China is playing an important role and should only be viewed in its own interests.

“If North Korea continues down this path, it will mean a further increase in U.S. military and security presence in the region,” Sullivan said. “Therefore (China) has an interest in playing a positive role in curbing North Korea’s worst tendencies. It’s up to them whether they want to do it or not.”

Biden will detail his position on the issue, and North Korea represents a threat not only to the United States (South Korea) and Japan, but also to regional peace and stability.

Sullivan suggested that the talks would focus on a better understanding of positions on a number of important issues, but were unlikely to produce major breakthroughs or dramatic changes in the relationship.

Instead, “leaders are coming to a better understanding and delegating their teams” to pursue those issues, Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden traveled to Cambodia.

Sullivan said the meeting, scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, was the result of weeks of intensive discussions between the two sides, and that Biden saw it as the start of a series of engagements between the two countries. Leaders and their teams.


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