Trump urges ASEAN not to be ‘satellites’ of anyone
During a frank and no-holds-barred discussion with the leaders of ASEAN in Manila on Monday, US President Donald Trump urged the region’s countries not to become “satellites” to anyone.
US President Donald Trump on Monday called for closer ties with South East Asia and urged ASEAN leaders not to become “satellites” to anyone, in a veiled caution against China’s growing clout in the region.
“We want our partners in the region to be strong, independent, and prosperous, in control of their own destinies, and satellites to no one,” Trump said at the 5th ASEAN-US summit with the ASEAN leaders in Manila as he vowed to promote his vision for “a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
Hailing the 40th anniversary this year of US-ASEAN relations, Trump said his administration “remains committed to ASEAN’s central role as a regional forum for total cooperation.”
“This diplomatic partnership advances the security and prosperity of the American people and the people of all Indo-Pacific nations,” he said.
During the meeting, Trump and the 10 ASEAN leaders discussed the rising nuclear threat from North Korea and China’s assertive territorial claims and land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea.
For five decades, Trump added, this organisation has brought together a vital assembly of nations to build consensus on critical issues facing the region and the world. “You have created a forum for all nations with a stake in the Indo-Pacific to listen, learn, and develop solutions to common challenges through strategic dialogue,” he said.
Trump said that this diplomatic partnership advances the security and prosperity of the American people and the people of all Indo-Pacific nations.
The US was awarded a strategic partnership last year, joining China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and India.
Last February, Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama invited all ASEAN leaders to attend a special summit meeting at Sunnylands, California. They issued the Sunnylands Declaration, which has been the foundation of their relations.
In the chairman’s statement issued after the meeting, the two sides “expressed grave concern about the unprecedented number of nuclear and ballistic missile tests” North Korea conducted last year in violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning it from conducting nuclear and missile activities.
US and ASEAN leaders criticised Pyongyang’s “disregard for international law,” saying it calls into question “the country’s sincerity in having meaningful dialogue on the real issues facing the Korean Peninsula,” said the draft, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News.
Earlier Monday, Trump had a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, apparently focusing on North Korea, the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific.
He also met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose country holds ASEAN’s rotating chairmanship this year, and was slated to have talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Trump and his Indo-Pacific counterparts are in the Philippine capital for a series of ASEAN-related summit meetings that began Monday.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Philippines is the last leg of Trump’s Asian tour.
From left: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Myanmar State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, US President Donald Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pose for a picture at the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines,on Monday.
US President Donald Trump gestures during the ASEAN US 40th anniversary commemorative summit in Manila on Monday.