WASHINGTON, May 13 ― Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob met with United States (US) President Joe Biden and Asean leaders at the White House today.

President Biden hosted in-person the leaders of Asean for a two-day Asean-US Special Summit here starting today.

The historic meeting is seen as the starting point to bringing a positive impact to the diplomatic, trade and economic relations of Malaysia.  

Ismail Sabri also stressed the stand of Asean in Asean-US cooperation at the summit apart from hoping that the special summit would be the strategic cornerstone for Asean and US to study and explore pragmatic cooperation to strengthen the existing ties.

Ismail Sabri also joined Biden and Asean leaders for a group photo at the compound of the White House.

They then proceeded to an official dinner hosted by President Biden at the White House.

This is the second time such a summit with Southeast Asian leaders is hosted by an American President in the US.

In February 2016, then-president Barack Obama welcomed Asean leaders in Sunnylands, California.

Other Asean leaders spotted at the White House were Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Laos Prime Minister Dr Phankham Viphavanh were also in attendance.

The Philippines which is currently holding its general election is represented by its Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

There is no representative from Myanmar, a country under junta rule following the February 1, 2021 coup.

It was reported earlier that Biden administration has set it as a top priority to serve as a strong, reliable partner in Southeast Asia.

In the previous virtual Asean-US Summit in October last year, Biden announced US$102 million in a new initiative to expand its engagement with Asean.

It covers Covid-19 recovery, health, security, fighting the climate change crisis, stimulating broad-based economic growth and deepening people-to-people ties. ― Bernama