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PM Lee, other Southeast Asian leaders to meet Biden in Washington at US-Asean summit

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is making a five-day visit to Washington DC from Tuesday (May 10) to attend a summit between the United States and South-east Asian leaders, including a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

PM Lee, other Southeast Asian leaders to meet Biden in Washington at US-Asean summit
US President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 29, 2022.

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is making a five-day visit to Washington DC from Tuesday (May 10) to attend a summit between the United States and South-east Asian leaders, including a meeting with US President Joe Biden.

Mr Lee's attendance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-US Special Summit comes about five weeks after he held an hour-long Oval Office meeting with Mr Biden on a range of issues.

In a statement on Monday, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said Mr Lee and other Asean leaders will be hosted to dinner by Mr Biden on Thursday before having a meeting with him the next day, where they will review the current Asean-US Strategic Partnership and discuss ways to strengthen US-Asean cooperation.

“The Asean leaders and President Biden will also exchange views on regional and global issues,” the PMO said. 

This is the second Special Summit between the US president and Asean leaders since 2016, where Mr Lee met with former US president Barack Obama. 

The 2016 summit was the first of its kind and built on the elevation of the Asean-US relationship to a “Strategic Partnership” during the third Asean-US summit in 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the previous summit, in October 2021, was held virtually.

The latest summit, originally set for March 28 and 29, was delayed due to conflicting schedules among Asean members as well as the Ukraine crisis. 

It will now take place on May 12 and 13. 

The special summit will "demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Asean" and "commemorate 45 years of US-Asean relations", White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement released on April 16. 

Ahead of the delayed March summit, Mr Biden had said he would follow Asean's lead by inviting a non-political figure from military-led Myanmar, which in February last year ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

During the upcoming trip, Mr Lee and other Asean leaders will also be hosted to a working lunch by US Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as a lunch with the US congressional leaders hosted by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

They will meet Ms Harris and a group of US Cabinet Secretaries to discuss climate action, clean energy transition and sustainable infrastructure.

Mr Lee will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, as well as officials from the PMO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Communications and Information.

During Mr Lee’s absence from Tuesday to Saturday, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, will be the Acting Prime Minister, the PMO said. 

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Lee Hsien Loong ASEAN Joe Biden Kamala Harris United States

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