Southeast Asian leaders call for unity amid global tensions

Cambodian leader Hun Sen called for unity on Sunday, telling a meeting involving Russia, China and the United States that current global tensions are taking their toll on everyone.

The prime minister, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said at the opening of the East Asia Summit that it was in the world’s common interest to cooperate to resolve differences peacefully.

The comments come as regional tensions remain high between the United States and China over Taiwan and Beijing’s growing regional aspirations, and as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted global supply chains, sending energy and food prices soaring far beyond Europe.

Without singling out any nation by name, Hun Sen said he hoped the leaders would adopt a “spirit of unity to uphold open and inclusive multilateralism, pragmatism and mutual respect to address the existential and strategic challenges we all face.”

“Many current challenges and tensions are hindering our hard-won efforts in the past to promote sustainable development and causing greater hardship to people’s lives,” he said at the opening of the meeting, which is being held alongside the ASEAN group’s main summit.

Among the participants were US President Joe Biden and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and it comes just one day before the expected meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Bali.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also participated in the meetings, which were also attended by the leaders of Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and others.

On Saturday, Biden pledged that the United States would work with ASEAN, telling leaders of the strategically vital coalition that “we are going to build a better future that we all want to see” in the region where US rival China is also working to expand. its influence.

He promised to work together to build a “free and open, stable and prosperous, resilient and secure” region.

“I look forward to continuing our work together with ASEAN and with each of you to deepen peace and prosperity across the region to resolve challenges from the South China Sea to Myanmar and find innovative solutions to shared challenges,” he said. Biden, citing climate change. and health security between the areas of collaboration.

Li Keqiang, for his part, said at a meeting of ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea that amid a “turbulent” global security situation, “unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise, economic and financial risks are on the rise and global development is facing unprecedented challenges.” “

As major economies in East Asia, Li said the group needed to “remain committed to promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region and beyond, and to improve people’s well-being.”

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