Washington (AP) —Friday President Joe Biden named him one of his best National Security Advisers as an ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with the aim of highlighting his administration’s commitment to the Pacific region. Announced to nominate.

Biden announced a decision to nominate Johannes Abraham, Chief of Staff of the White House National Security Council, to represent the United States in a block of 10 countries at the end of a two-year meeting with ASEAN leaders in Washington. .. Day “Special Summit”.

Biden’s efforts to focus more on the Pacific region have been overtaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in recent months.

The President has been appointed Ambassador of ASEAN and the United States is now represented by Charger D’affaires. The President sent a message that he is seriously working to readjust US foreign policy to further focus on Asia and strengthen the role of the United States. He counters China’s rapid growth in the region.

Biden described Abraham as one of his closest advisers

“He knows my thoughts, so I’m a little worried about sending him. He knows me very well,” Biden joked with ASEAN leaders about Abraham. “But joking aside, you’ll think he’s completely knowledgeable. He speaks for me, he speaks for my administration.”

Abraham’s nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, will take place after the White House announced Thursday that the United States will invest more than $ 150 million in a new project to strengthen climate, maritime and public health infrastructure in Southeast Asia. I did.

Earlier on Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris met with ASEAN leaders, emphasizing that “the United States and ASEAN share a vision for the region and will work together to prevent threats to international rules and norms.” bottom. The comment appeared to refer to China’s increasingly aggressive military operations in and beyond the South China Sea during a session that partially focused on maritime freedom.

China has strengthened its military presence in the South China Sea and East China Sea in recent years. In the East China Sea, the controversy over uninhabited islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China has long been a boiling issue.

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“We are working with our allies and partners to maintain freedom of navigation and order under maritime rules, including international law,” Harris declared.

Biden is getting more and more attention in his presidency to improve relations with Pacific nations. He and top national security officials have revealed that the rise of China is seen as the most threatening economic and national security enemy for the United States.

Biden said in a statement to State Department leaders that strengthening relations between the United States and ASEAN was “just the center” of his foreign policy strategy.

“A free, open, stable, prosperous, resilient and safe Indo-Pacific is what we all want,” Biden said.

White House officials said Biden spoke privately with ASEAN leaders about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Post-summit joint statements issued by US and ASEAN participants do not directly mention Russia, and participants “on Ukraine” reaffirm our respect for sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity. I added.

Some ASEAN member countries (Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos) have relied on Russia for military hardware for many years. With the exception of Singapore, which is the only member of a group of 10 members that imposes direct sanctions on Moscow, the alliance has avoided criticizing President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s prosecution of the war.

Indonesia has been wary of public comments on the aggression, revealing that the Philippines will not impose sanctions on Russia. Thailand participated in a UN vote against Ukraine’s aggression, but remains neutral in the war.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said at the beginning of a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State on Friday, “We hope that the war in Ukraine will end as soon as possible and give us a chance to succeed in a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” .. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Because we all know that as the war continues, we all suffer.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the current president of Group 20, the world’s largest economy, resisted Biden’s call to ban Russia from the summit in Bali this fall. White House spokesman Jen Psaki reiterated on Friday that Biden remained in the position that “you shouldn’t do business as usual in the G20” and Putin should cancel the invitation.

Another potential problem with our relationship with the United States is a Commerce Department investigation. As a result, high tariffs may be levied on solar panels and parts imported from four Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. A California-based solar company says Chinese producers are unfairly evading US obligations by holding minor rallies in four smaller countries.

Solar industry groups and other clean energy advocates have blamed the investigation. They say this could jeopardize the future of the industry and Biden’s clean energy agenda. According to industry groups, about 80% of the panels used by US companies date back to Southeast Asia. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo states that the investigation follows a process stipulated by law.

The ASEAN countries that the leaders attended at the summit are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The top leaders of Myanmar, an ASEAN member, were banned, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sent Foreign Minister Theodoro Lopecin Jr. to represent the government.

The summit was held just before Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan next week. This is the first time the president has visited Asia. He will meet with leaders from these two countries, and during the trip, with the leaders of the Indo-Pacific Strategic Alliance called Quad, which consists of Australia, India and Japan, in addition to the United States.

Harris told ASEAN leaders that the Biden administration “recognizes the crucial strategic importance of Brock.” “The United States will exist and be involved in Southeast Asia for generations to come,” she said.

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The Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to the report.

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