Obama invites His Majesty to US-ASEAN summit

National 1 minute, 48 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

US President Barack Obama has extended invitations to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, and nine other ASEAN leaders to attend a special US-ASEAN summit in California this month.

Slated for February 15 to 16, the summit – aimed at prioritising engagement with Southeast Asia – will be held at Sunnylands Estate.

The invitation comes just two months after the announcement of the launch of the US-ASEAN Strategic Partnership.

“We are very enthusiastically looking forward to His Majesty’s visit, we fully anticipate having a great summit and discussing a whole range of issues between the United States and ASEAN,” the US ambassador to Brunei, Craig Allen said yesterday.

The White House has said that the “unique” summit is an illustration of a new direction for US foreign policy, part of the Obama administration’s much-touted “rebalance strategy” towards the Asia-Pacific.

“We have many common interests, whether it’s regional security, economic interests, global interests,” said Allen.

“We look at ASEAN as being one of the most dynamic places on earth, and our ASEAN trade partners and friends are some of our most valued.”

Greater economic integration is sure to be high on the agenda, as well as regional security issues – including maritime disputes in the South China Sea – nonproliferation, human trafficking, and climate change.

The US ambassador said the meeting will take place in a more “informal setting”, unlike most international summits, where leaders will be outside the conference room and will be able to discuss issues as they like.

“This is the president’s last year in office. He has very high regard for the region and ASEAN and he wanted to make sure to do this and then have time to follow up,” he said.

“For the longer term we’re confident in this part of the world for many reasons. We want to be a trusted trade and investment partner.

“We have a new strategic partnership so we’d like to work on the full range of issues, be it security, environment, or trade or investment… and the Brunei bilateral relationship will be strengthened by this.”

The Brunei Times