US President Donald Trump invited all the leaders of ASEAN member states to a special summit at the White House in 2020.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to offer an invitation to the leaders of ASEAN to join me in the United States for a special summit, meeting at a time of mutual convenience in the first quarter of 2020,” read Trump’s letter addressed to ASEAN leaders at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The letter was read by Robert O’Brien, the White House national security adviser on Monday in Bangkok.
Russian President Vladimir Putin headlined the summit last year and it was widely anticipated US President Donald Trump would attend this year. Instead, the US government sent O’Brien and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Trump has publicly complained about trade deficits between the US and Asian countries.
The US-China trade war has been temporarily halted as trade negotiators try to reach an agreement on Phase One of the deal by the end of the year.
Additionally, Trump suspended $1.3 billion in trade preferences with Thailand under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade scheme after the Thai government banned hazardous chemicals often found in US agricultural products last week.
The Thailand government’s ban could affect $773 million worth of US soybean and wheat exports.