ASEAN leaders, Trump skip summit

KUALA, LUMPUR, Most of Southeast Asian leaders failed to attend an important meeting with the US on Monday after President Donald Trump decided not to attend their regional summit and other related meetings in Thailand for the second year in a row.

US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who headed the US delegation, addressed the gathering on behalf of the US president.

Fearing a boycott of the US, O’Brien urged all Southeast Asian heads of state to attend a “special summit” in Washington early next year.

Only host Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand and the prime ministers of Vietnam and Laos joined O’Brien.

The annual summit allows Southeast Asian leaders to deal as a group with the world’s major powers, leveraging their influence in making security and trade arrangements.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Together, they comprise a fast-growing regional market of nearly 650 million people.

At their annual gathering, the ASEAN leaders meet in their own summit before meeting separately with their counterparts from outside the bloc, including the U.S., China, Japan, Australia and India.

Source: Kuwait News Agency