Biden pledges $150m to Asean
US President Joe Biden opened a gathering of Southeast Asian leaders with a promise to spend $150 million on their infrastructure, security, pandemic preparedness and other efforts aimed at countering the influence of rival China.
On Thursday, Biden started a two-day summit with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Washington with a dinner for the leaders at the White House ahead of talks at the State Department, reports Reuters.
While Russia's invasion of Ukraine is on the agenda, Biden's administration hopes the efforts will show the countries that the US remains focused on the Indo-Pacific and the long-term challenge of China, which it views at the country's main competitor.
In November alone, China pledged $1.5 billion in development assistance to Asean over three years to fight Covid and fuel economic recovery.
The summit marks the first time that Asean's leaders gather as a group at the White House and their first meeting hosted by a US president since 2016.