WASHINGTON

US President Joe Biden hailed on Friday relations with Asian partners, saying the US relationship with southeast Asian nations is “critical” to meeting shared challenges. 

“We’re committed to a future where the rules and norms that have made possible so much growth and prosperity, and stability Indo-Pacific are upheld and strengthened, including respect for the rule of law and for human rights,” Biden said in brief remarks open to the press.

“This is something that benefits all 1 billion of the people who live in our countries from the United States and all of you. And as we look around the world, all the challenge we’re facing, the ASEAN-US partnership is critical, I think, to meeting the moment we find ourselves in history right now,” he added.

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a union of 10 countries in the region, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Biden announced an additional $150 million to further bolster cooperation during Friday’s special summit after pledging $100 million in October.

The White House previously said the new funding package is expected to spur billions of dollars in additional private investments “that will deepen U.S.-ASEAN relations, strengthen ASEAN centrality, and expand our common capacity to achieve our shared objectives.”

Roughly $60 million is slated to go towards new regional maritime initiatives, including additional Coast Guard deployments in the Indo-Pacific region, and the transfer of Coast Guard cutter boats to regional nations.

Biden has re-emphasized relations in Asia amid great power competition with China. He is slated to travel next week to South Korea and Japan amid mounting ballistic missiles threats from Pyongyang, and an anticipated seventh nuclear test.

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