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


Phnom Penh, Cambodia
CNN

President Joe Biden arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Saturday morning local time for meetings and meetings between the US president and the leaders of Southeast Asian countries.

The weekend of meetings in Cambodia comes ahead of a highly anticipated 20-member summit next week in Indonesia where Biden will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping for the first time in person since he started a government. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit – as well as Sunday’s East Asia summit, which is being held in Phnom Penh – will be the president’s chance to talk to US allies before sitting down with Xi.

Biden will hold a second meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as he seeks to follow up on a meeting between Biden and ASEAN leaders in Washington earlier this year.

Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One, “it is the goal to increase our relationship in the Indo-Pacific” from the beginning of his presidency, and his visit to the ASEAN and East Asia summit in this weekend will show his work. so far, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework announced earlier this year and security partnership efforts.

“He’s coming into this convention with a record of accomplishments and goals behind him, and he wants to be able to use the next 36 hours to build on that foundation to move America’s commitment forward, and to put forward an agenda.” It’s different. It’s a useful strategy,” Sullivan said.

Among those valuable initiatives, Sullivan said, are innovations in maritime cooperation, digital integration, and investment in the economy. Biden is expected to launch a new Navy Department effort “that focuses on using radio frequencies from commercial satellites to track dark, illegal and unregulated fishing vessels.” control, and to enhance the capacity of regional countries to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises,” said Sullivan.

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Biden will also demonstrate a “forward-looking position” on regional security, Sullivan added, to show that the US is at the forefront of security cooperation.

There will also be a focus on Myanmar in dialogue and coordination “to continue investing and increasing pressure on the authorities,” who seized power from the democratic government in the country in February 2021 coup.

Four threats define the global threats coming to Biden’s trip: the war between Russia and Ukraine, increasing tensions with China, the real crisis of climate change and the possibility of a global recession in the coming months. . Other fires, such as North Korea’s accelerating provocation and uncertainty over Iran’s nuclear program, will also cause it.

While in Phnom Penh, Biden will meet with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Sunday following North Korea’s missile test, Sullivan said. The meeting is notable because of the historic conflict between Japan and South Korea, and the relationship between two strong US allies is one that Biden has tried to overcome.

Japan and South Korea find themselves worried about Kim Jong Un’s missile tests, and the prospect of a seventh nuclear test. North Korea has stepped up its tests this year, as they conducted missile tests in 32 days in 2022, according to CNN statistics. That compares to just eight in 2021 and four in 2020, with the new start coming on Wednesday.

Sullivan suggested that the tripartite meeting would not lead to the achievement of specific objectives, but rather, promote security cooperation between different threats.

The three world leaders, Sullivan told reporters, “will be able to discuss broader security issues in the Indo-Pacific and also, specifically, the threat posed by 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 but could not say whether it would come during the weekend of meetings.

“Our concerns are still real. “Whether it will happen next week or not, I can’t say,” Sullivan said earlier this week. nuclear test. Therefore, we will take good care of both of them. ”

But Monday’s meeting with Xi in Bali, Indonesia, will depend on the meeting in Cambodia, and will be part of the trilateral dialogue.

“One thing that President Biden really wants to do with our partners is to preview what he wants to do, and ask the leaders (of South Korea) and Japan, ‘What do you want me to do? What? what do you want me to join in on?'” Sullivan said, adding that it “will be a theme but not the focus of the third episode.”

Biden and Xi have spoken by phone five times since the president entered the White House. They travel a lot together, both in China and the United States, while they both serve as vice presidents of their respective countries.

Both enter Monday’s session on the back of important political events. Biden fared better than expected in the US midterm elections and Xi lifted him to an unprecedented third term in Communist China.

US officials declined to speculate on how the political positions of the two leaders could affect the strength of their organization.

The two high-level meetings between Biden and Xi will focus on “beginning” each leader’s understanding of the other’s priorities, Sullivan told reporters.

That includes the issue of Taiwan, which Beijing claims. Biden has pledged in the past to use US military might to protect the island from invasion. This issue is one of the biggest differences between Biden and Xi.

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Biden will also raise the issue of North Korea, emphasizing the critical role China can play in managing threats in the region, Sullivan said.

Biden has raised the issue repeatedly in his calls with Xi so far, but Sullivan stressed that the US views on China play a very important role – and one that should be viewed in its own interest.

“If North Korea continues on this path, it will mean that it will increase the American military presence in the region,” Sullivan said. “So (China) is interested in playing a useful role in thwarting North Korea’s worst wishes. Whether they choose to do so or not is up to them.”

Sullivan said Biden will clarify his position on the matter, “which is that North Korea represents a threat not only to the United States, not only to (South Korea) and Japan, but to peace and stability in All regional soups.”

Sullivan suggested that the meeting would focus on a better understanding of the situation and critical issues, but it is unlikely to lead to significant progress or dramatic changes in the relationship.

Instead, “it’s about leaders coming to a better understanding and giving their teams the responsibility” to continue working on those problems, Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One. Biden is going to Cambodia.

The meeting, set on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, is the result of “several weeks of intense” discussions between the two sides, Sullivan said, and Biden sees it as the beginning of a process. middle intervention. leaders and their members.

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