On February 7, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed that he had received a letter from U.S. President Joe Biden inviting him, as the current chair of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the bloc’s other leaders to a special summit in Washington, scheduled to be held sometime in the coming months.
In the letter, dated January 14, Biden highlighted the importance of the engagement of the U.S. with the region as well as Washington’s support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN-led regional architecture, demonstrating the need for both sides to work hand in hand to further bolster it.
It remains unclear when exactly the summit will be held, but it is momentous for the U.S. and ASEAN leaders to meet face to face after several years of virtual communication due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are of course many issues waiting for both sides to discuss, ranging from recovery from the pandemic to regional matters like the Myanmar crisis, backtracking democracy, and rising Chinese influence. Any opportunity for leaders to meet physically will offer a boost to the ongoing engagement between the U.S. and Southeast Asia and help the two sides better address regional and global challenges.