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Trump’s Asian visit suggests US will remain engaged with region: Singaporean prime minister

US president’s upcoming Asian visit sends the reassuring message that the US is not detaching itself from the region, Lee Hsien Loong said

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 7:52am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 7:57am

US President Donald Trump’s upcoming Asia visit sends a reassuring message that the US is not detaching itself from Asia as it rethinks its policy for the region, Singapore’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

“The Trump administration is still developing its Asia strategy,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a Council on Foreign Relations event in Washington during a US visit. He met Trump on Monday at the White House.

Lee said he has been reassured by the US side that the Trump administration is “not disengaging” from Asia when “rethinking its approach” in the region.

“[The US] want to do more in the region and looking for ways to do that,” Lee said. “We are looking for getting the same message when the [US] President comes out in a few weeks’ time.”

Lee’s comment came amid a report that Trump will shorten his upcoming 12-day Asia trip by skipping an East Asian leaders’ summit in Angeles, Philippine and returning to the US a day early. The trip originally was to take place from November 3-14.

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A White House spokesman cautioned critics not to “read anything into” Trump’s skipping the summit. The decision is “entirely schedule-driven”, The Washington Post quoted the spokesman.

Lee also said the US and China should establish a “stable gradually evolving relationship which would give them [China] the space to grow their influence”.

Trump will meet his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in Beijing during the Asian trip. The two presidents talked on Wednesday by phone, vowing to jointly blueprint the future development of the two countries, China’s state television channel CGTN reported.

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“If you have a tension relationship, one or both of the parties say you are either with me or you are against me. Then we are in a difficult spot,” Lee warned. “It could happen.”