Biden calls for building a 'free and open' Indo Pacific at ASEAN summit

© Saul Loeb, AFP

Southeast Asian heads of government held talks on Saturday with visiting global leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden, who hailed the launch of a new U.S.-ASEAN pact as a critical step towards tackling "the biggest issues of our time".

In his first visit to Southeast Asia as president, Biden said the region was at the heart of his administration's Indo-Pacific strategy and Washington was committing resources, not just rhetoric, under a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

"Together we will tackle the biggest issues of our time, from climate, to health security, to defend against the significant threat to the rule-based order," he said, opening a meeting in Cambodia with leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"We will build an Indo Pacific that's free and open, stable and prosperous, and resilient and secure," he added. ASEAN is engaging a host of leaders, including Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

China and ASEAN announced an upgrade in their ties to the comprehensive strategic partnership level last year.

Serious threat


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