PHNOM PENH, Nov 13 — US President Joe Biden and leaders of the Association of South-east Asian Nations yesterday announced the start of a new a strategic partnership aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region.

Announced during the 10th Asean-United States Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Asean-US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is meant to open new areas of cooperation vital to the future prosperity and security of our combined 1 billion people, according to a released declaration.

The White House said the new partnership includes US$150 million (RM705 million) in programmes for Asean that will be combined with more than US$800 million already requested in fiscal year 2023 for bilateral programmes in Asean member states.

More than US$12 billion in development, economic, health, and security assistance has been granted to Asean members from the United States since 2002.

The partnership reflects “the Biden-Harris Administration’s deep commitment to Asean’s central role in the Indo-Pacific region”, United Press International (UPI) quoted the statement read, adding that it brings Washington and Asean members closer to jointly tackle challenges related to climate, food security and security threats, “as well as to build an Indo-Pacific that’s free and open, stable and prosperous, resilient and secure”.

Joint economic concerns such as electric vehicle research, green energy, greater connectivity and sustainable development will be emphasised under the deal, it added.

The announcement came as Biden arrived in Phnom Penh on Saturday following his attendance at the COP 27 climate summit in Egypt, meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister and 2022 Asean Chair Hun Sen.

“In addition to discussing the new strategic partnership, the two leaders also discussed the crisis in Myanmar and Asean’s response, underscoring the international community has an important role to play in promoting a return to democracy and stability in the country,” the White House said.

Biden also “expressed his appreciation for Cambodia co-sponsoring resolutions at the United Nations to support Ukraine against Russia’s brutal aggression”, according to a readout of the meeting. — Bernama

US President Joe Biden (centre) speaks during the Asean-US summit as part of the 40th and 41st Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) Summits in Phnom Penh on November 13, 2022. — AFP pic