US President Joe Biden plans to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s role in the Indo-Pacific with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the White House on Tuesday, a senior official said. administration.
Lee, who will meet with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris later, will join Biden in an Oval Office meeting before the leaders issue a joint statement, the White House said. Speaking on a conference call, the official, who declined to be identified, said the United States was very pleased with Singapore’s decision to impose sanctions and export controls on the Russia following its invasion of Ukraine last month.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” which it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and capture what it sees as dangerous nationalists. “We are very pleased with what Singapore has done and I think the key is going to be to keep looking for ways to expand our cooperation on this and other issues,” the official said.
Biden was due to host leaders of the Association of 10 Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Singapore is a member, this week, but the summit was postponed as not all leaders were able to attend the dates announced on March 28 and 29. by the White House. The official reiterated that the White House is working to reschedule the event. “We think time is running out and we want to try to do that,” the official said, noting there would be “announcements” during Lee’s visit while declining to provide details.
Lee’s trip comes after Vice President Harris, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo visited Singapore last year. Biden last spoke with Lee on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Rome. Singapore is a key financial and commercial hub and has been keen to hear details of US plans for an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) in a region that Washington says remains a key priority despite the Ukraine crisis.
The Biden administration announced an Indo-Pacific strategy in February in which it pledged to commit more diplomatic and security resources to the region to counter what it sees as China’s attempt to create a sphere of conflict. regional influence. The document reiterated plans to launch IPEF early this year, but few details have emerged, and the administration has been reluctant to offer the increased market access that Asian countries want, seeing it as a threat to American jobs.
On Monday, the official said the framework should be discussed during Lee’s visit, but provided few details. Asked about market access, the official said the Biden administration is “looking for ways to do this using existing frameworks rather than new market access.”
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