Asean leaders will also exchange views on regional and global issues, the statement said. The leaders will attend meetings with cabinet secretaries and Harris, and also be hosted to separate working lunches by Harris and US Congressional leaders led by the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Only eight of the 10 Asean leaders will attend: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte – whose successor is being elected by citizens in Monday’s election – said in late April that he was skipping the meeting as he did not want to make decisions that his successor would have to abide by.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jnr, the son of the country’s late dictator, is poised to win Monday’s vote.

Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jnr is expected to win the May 9 election. Photo: EPA-EFE

Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jnr is expected to win the May 9 election. Photo: EPA-EFE

Also not attending the meeting is Myanmar’s junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, who has been sidelined from the bloc because of his non-adherence to a peace plan he had agreed with Asean following his seizure of power in February last year.

This week’s meeting is the first that a US president is hosting for Asean leaders since 2016, when then-President Barack Obama convened a two-day summit in California.

Former President Donald Trump had planned a summit with the bloc outside Las Vegas in early 2020, but that meeting was derailed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said in an earlier statement that the upcoming summit would demonstrate the US’ “enduring commitment to Asean”.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has ramped up its interactions with Southeast Asia, marked by several high-profile visits last year including Vice-President Kamala Harris’ tour to Singapore and Vietnam.

But the US resolve has been increasingly questioned – especially in recent months – following the onset of the US-Ukraine war and concerns about the growing global inflation crisis.

In this visit, Lee will be accompanied by Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Foreign-policy observers in the city state had previously said it was highly likely that Lee would make a second trip to Washington for the Asean summit even though he had called on Biden in March.

While the republic professes a balanced foreign policy embracing all major powers including China, it has particularly strong strategic ties with the US.

It hosts a logistics facility for US forces in Asia, and the US has previously rotationally deployed littoral combat ships from the republic to the disputed South China Sea.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will travel to Washington with PM Lee Hsien Loong. File photo: AFP

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will travel to Washington with PM Lee Hsien Loong. File photo: AFP

Like his late father Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore’s independence leader, current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong is regarded in Washington’s strategic circles as an important sounding board for Asia policy.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board during his March visit, Lee said it was important that the US refrained from asking Asian nations to reject China’s overtures of cooperation. Instead, the US needed to maintain “an overlapping and constructive engagement in the region” as it worked out how to deal with Beijing in a way that did not destabilise the global system, he said.

During this week’s summit, Biden is expected to pitch to Asean leaders his Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a broad plan to strengthen US economic presence in Asia.

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