US President Donald Trump announced that he wouldn’t attend ASEAN’s East Asia Summit in Bangkok next week.
The annual summit is ASEAN’s most important meeting of the year and gives leaders of ASEAN member states an opportunity to meet with their counterparts from US, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
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 will send US trade representatives from his cabinet.
“Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs [Robert] O’Brien will be accompanied by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who will be the senior US government representative at the second annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok,” read a statement released by the US government on Tuesday.
“Secretary Ross is leading an executive trade mission to Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam from November 3 to 8, 2019,” added the statement.
US President Barak Obama attended every East Asian Summit during his presidency except in 2013 when the US federal government shut down.
The US government and Trump continues to state that ASEAN member states are integral partners in the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy.
“The US continues to support ASEAN centrality in the regional security architecture, and the US free and open Indo-Pacific strategy seeks to further empower it,” stated a US Defense Department Indo-Pacific report released earlier this year.
“The US and ASEAN share common values, and ASEAN is a key partner in promoting the values and policies enshrined in the US Indo-Pacific Strategy: freedom of the seas; market economics; good governance; and respect for an order based on clear and transparent rules,” it added.