Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (LEE SEE'-yan LONG) has said the rivalry between the U.S. and China for influence in Southeast Asia is proving awkward for countries that do not want to have to choose between them.
Lee told reporters at a news conference Thursday that Asia is struggling to adapt to a "deal oriented" U.S. diplomacy under President Donald Trump from the more generous American approach of the past.
He says it's "easier not to take sides when everyone is on the same side."
Lee made the comments as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ended its annual summit in the city state. Vice President Mike Pence attended in place of Trump.
ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (LEE KUH'-chiang) has told fellow Asian leaders the region needs to send a strong positive message to markets about sticking to trade rules and open markets.
Li spoke Thursday at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian nations. He also reassured China's neighbors that Beijing's "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative will help support peace and stability in the region.
Li says the region needs to "take concrete action to uphold the rules-based free trade regime and to send a message - a positive message - to the market to provide stable, predictable and law-based conditions for the market."
His comments come amid mounting concern over debts associated with projects financed by Beijing that are part of the effort to nurture trade and logistics networks linked to China.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says another U.S.-North Korean summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely after the beginning of the year.
Pence said Thursday that the meeting would "put details on paper" for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. would continue putting "maximum pressure" on North Korea until then.
Pence spoke on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Singapore.
He also says Trump plans to discuss Beijing's unique role regarding North Korea when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina at the G-20 summit later this month. He says the U.S. is also working very closely with South Korea and respects the talks it is holding with Pyongyang.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says America has a steadfast and enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific region but wants cooperation, not control.
Pence, who is standing in for President Donald Trump, told a summit of Southeast Asian leaders Thursday in Singapore that "empire and aggression have no place" in the region. The comment appeared to allude to growing Chinese sway in the region and its vast claims in the South China Sea.
Pence said, "Like you, we seek an Indo-Pacific in which all nations, large and small, can prosper and thrive - secure in our sovereignty, confident in our values, and growing stronger together."
The meetings of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Nations focus on enhanced trade and security in a region of more than 630 million people.
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