At 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meet, Singapore PM calls for multilateralism

US Secretary of State Pompeo calls on Dr Mahathir

Malaysia Chronicle

Pompeo unveiled the figure to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from 10-member ASEAN and other officials from around the world in Singapore.

Pompeo also told a gathering of top diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore that Asean had been the top destination for United States investment in Asia.

"It is important that Asean continues to support the multilateral system and work with like-minded partners to deepen our web of cooperation", he said in a speech to foreign ministers from all 10 Asean countries and diplomats at the opening ceremony of the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting at Singapore Expo.

PM Lee also urged deeper economic integration from member countries amidst heating trade tensions between the USA and the trading bloc's other dialogue partners including China, EU and Canada.

The 16 RCEP participating countries are seeking a broad agreement on their free trade talks by the end of the year.

"The visit provides a great opportunity for both Malaysia and the United States of America to discuss a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest", said a Wisma Putra statement.

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) told reporters at the forum that China welcomed, and was willing to work with, the USA to help with faster development and better security in the region.

"Rising anti-globalization and trade protectionism among major countries is fueling tensions and threatening our aspiration for sustained economic growth", Kang said during the meeting.

"Cybersecurity is a concern for all of us".

The exercises come as more nations, many Asean members among them, are drawn into China's orbit as the United States finds it hard to promote its policy of engaging Asia while promising to put "America First".

Singapore's biggest bank, DBS, estimates that a full-scale trade war - defined as 15-25 percent tariffs on all products traded between the US and China - could more than halve Singapore's growth rate next year from a forecast 2.7 percent to 1.2 percent.

Washington escalated the trade row this week by saying it was considering more than doubling threatened tariffs on a range of Chinese imports worth $200 billion.

When summarising the joint communique, Dr Balakrishnan described the annual meeting among ASEAN foreign ministers as a "good session" and quipped that "one index of that is we are able to issue the communique well ahead of time".

But U.S. -North Korea negotiations on the specifics of denuclearization have been apparently at a standstill, raising skepticism about whether North Korea will really implement concrete measures toward denuclearization. He said that he conveyed to other nations the willingness of Washington to maintain sanctions on North Korea.

USA officials say the move is a potential violation of United Nations sanctions aimed at cutting cash flows to Pyongyang while pressing it to give up nuclear weapons.

Despite not being reported to have visited the country this year, KCNA stated that Ri met with Iranian counterparts during a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) ministerial meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan in April.

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