Biden to step up engagement with Asean; meeting with Xi Jinping in Bali unconfirmed | Global News

Biden to step up engagement with Asean; meeting with Xi Jinping in Bali unconfirmed

/ 11:36 AM November 10, 2022
Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden discusses the 2022 U.S. midterm election results during a news conference in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2022. REUTERS

WASHINGTON – A much anticipated bilateral meeting between US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Bali from Nov 13 to 16 remains up in the air.

Senior United States administration officials, at a Tuesday briefing for the media on Mr Biden’s upcoming travel to Egypt and Southeast Asia, were cagey on the possibility, not even confirming the US is working on such a meeting.

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Thus far, Mr Biden’s only bilateral meetings will be with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Sharm El Sheikh where he will attend the COP27 climate summit; Cambodian Premier Hun Sen in Cambodia where he will attend the US-Asean and East Asia summits; and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the G-20 summit.

Asked about additional bilateral meetings, one of the senior officials said: “There is nothing to report at this time.”

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In Indonesia, President Biden will underscore the importance of the US-Indonesia strategic partnership, a senior official said.

Mr Biden will also work with G-20 leaders to “lay the foundations for a more sustainable, inclusive global economy which will support American families and vulnerable countries’ economies alike”, he said.

“The United States will be… unapologetic in our defense of Ukraine, we will be unapologetic in calling out Russia for its brutal war,” the official added.

The President’s agenda at the G-20 meet includes working to address the war’s impact on the global economy. Energy security and food security are at the top of that list, the official said.

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Mr Biden will co-host an event in Bali where the US will advance the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, he added.

This is an effort that was launched in June to mobilize US$600 million (S$840 million) in financing over five years for lower- and middle-income countries.

The President will announce new projects in quality infrastructure, which will also strengthen supply chains, added the official.

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Mr Biden will also talk about debt relief for vulnerable countries, leveraging multilateral development banks to fund global challenges and global health, he said.

At the US-Asean summit in Phnom Penh taking place just before the Bali meeting, Mr Biden will continue to press the US’ seriousness in institutionalizing stepped-up levels of engagement with the region, said the senior official briefing on the Asean meetings.

“In Cambodia… the President (will) lay out our vision for… enhanced engagement and trying to also address concerns of importance to Asean in ways that they are looking for,” he said.

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“We’ll also focus on efforts to promote respect for human rights, rule of law and good governance, the rules-based international order, and also to address the ongoing crisis in Burma (Myanmar),” he added.

“I think that we also want to highlight the enduring commitment to the rules-based international order, including in the South China Sea, as well as talk about the importance of peace and stability throughout the region, including, of course, across the Taiwan Strait.

“This reflects following through… and an institutionalization of the very stepped-up engagement with Asean and with South-east Asia that we have seen so far in the administration.”

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