Majority of ASEAN leaders ignore summit with U.S.

Majority of ASEAN leaders ignore summit with U.S.

Leaders of seven of ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have skipped the ASEAN-U.S. summit, which is held on November 2-4 in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok.

The leaders of only three countries attended the summit: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-cha of Thailand and the prime ministers of Vietnam and Laos. Other members sent their foreign ministers.

U.S. President Donald Trump has skipped the ASEAN-U.S. summit for the past two years, sending Vice-President Mike Pence in 2018. But this year he sent only Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, who read a message from Trump at a U.S.-ASEAN meeting.

Trump has invited Southeast Asian leaders to a “special summit” in the United States early next year, Associated Press reported.

The meeting with the U.S. is normally attended by presidents or prime ministers. But this year, both Trump and Pence were busy campaigning during the meetings.

"It's not appropriate for ASEAN to send leaders when the US representation is not on parity," AFP cited one diplomat in Bangkok as saying.

Another diplomat said: "It's not a boycott, it's just that other leaders have other meetings to attend to," CNA reported.