US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses reporters at the State Department. —AFP/VNA Photo
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump has invited Southeast Asian leaders to meet next month in Las Vegas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday, after a summit last year was scrapped.
Pompeo confirmed the date when asked at a news conference whether fears over the coronavirus outbreak would delay the summit with members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"The ASEAN summit is still, we're working our way through it for ... the second weekend in March in Las Vegas," Pompeo said.
Diplomats said that the summit would involve Trump and is scheduled to take place on March 12 in the desert gambling haven.
The United States began sounding out Southeast Asian leaders about visiting after Chile canceled a Pacific Rim summit scheduled for November in the wake of major demonstrations.
Trump had likewise skipped an ASEAN summit and parallel East Asia Summit last year in Bangkok.
He instead sent his national security advisor, Robert O'Brien, in the lowest-level participation ever by the United States in the East Asia Summit.
Most ASEAN leaders snubbed a meeting with O'Brien, sending junior officials who were of more parallel rank.
The low-level presence in Bangkok came after years of US efforts to show that the United States is committed to Asia in the face of a rising China.
In Bangkok, O'Brien renewed the US call for freedom of navigation and accused China of using "intimidation" to stop ASEAN nations from exploiting resources in the South China Sea (called East Sea by Việt Nam). — AFP