President to skip Asian summits

President Donald Trump arrives at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

President Donald Trump arrives at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Trump was invited to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and the East Asia summit in Singapore and also the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea.

It was originally reported that Trump would be visiting our shores in November after his visit to Papa New Guinea.

It will be the first time that a US president has skipped the annual US-Asean and East Asia summits since 2013, when then President Barack Obama, dealing with a government shutdown in Washington, sent then Vice-President Joe Biden in his place.

Later in November, Trump will attend the G20 summit in Buenos Aires and will also travel to Colombia for talks with Colombian leaders about security, counter narcotics and regional affairs, Sanders said.

Trump's absence is also likely to fuel concerns among Asian leaders who want the U.S. to push back against China's increasing economic and military might.

Asia experts were not surprised by Trump's decision.

In 2007, then-US president George W. Bush drew flak for rescheduling a planned meeting with ASEAN leaders in Singapore.

Allies put their best face on Trump's decision.

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In June this year, he accepted an invitation from President Halimah Yacob to make a state visit to Singapore, following a four-eye meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the week of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

It added that Vice-President Mike Pence would be attending both meetings.

Trump is attending a military parade in Paris on November 11 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

After the USA withdrawal, trade ministers from the 11 nations that stuck with TPP talks - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - signed a new agreement in Chile on March 8.

While in Europe, the president also will visit Ireland to "renew the deep and historic ties between our two nations".

In August, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended a regional foreign ministers' meeting in Singapore to prepare for the November summits and pledged almost $300 million in new security funding for the Indo-Pacific - a drop in the ocean compared to the billions China has been pouring into the region.

"The US will still be regarded and expected to remain committed and engaged with the region, and there'll still be significant efforts of regional countries to keep the US presence in the region as the China shadow looms in the background", Koh said.

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