U.S. pledges nearly $300 million security funding for Southeast Asia

  • U.S. pledges nearly $300 million security funding for Southeast Asia

U.S. pledges nearly $300 million security funding for Southeast Asia

He is the first senior US official to visit Malaysia since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was took office following a May election dubbed "quite historic" by a senior State Department official.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks to the media after bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Singapore August 2, 2018.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have approved a draft of a proposed agreement to prevent fighting in the disputed South China Sea.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad here this morning for talks as he concluded his two-day inaugural visit to Malaysia.

China, however, shows no sign of bending to Washington's pressure.

China and the 10-nation bloc, which includes four claimants involved in the territorial dispute, have been engaged in sporadic negotiations for years to craft a "code of conduct" aimed at preventing violent outbreaks in the region.

He is leading the Malaysian delegation to the 51st Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting/Post Ministerial Conferences and Related Meetings in Singapore. "That says a lot for governance and democracy", the senior State Department official added.

"Of course, the United States is ten thousand miles away, so if the intention is to build stronger relations between military forces who are neighbors, then the United States will be really out of place", the spokesman said.

In the draft text, Beijing suggests that China and ASEAN should carry out joint military exercises regularly.

Pompeo told reporters he had raised concerns at the meeting about Chinese militarisation of the South China Sea and the importance of maintaining a rules-based order in the region.

His Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, called the working text "good news" and "great progress".

The suggestion to exclude outside countries "is obviously targeted at the United States which has been dominating the waters of the Western Pacific and the South China Sea in particular", Hoang Thi Ha, from the Asean Studies Centre, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said.

Over the first year and a half of US administration, President Donald Trump attended his first US-Asean Summit and the East Asia Summit in Manila; Vice President Pence visited the Asean Secretariat; and numerous cabinet secretaries travelled to the region, including Pompeo's recent visit to Vietnam.

The Asean meeting coincides with a bitter trade dispute between the U.S. and China.