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EXCLUSIVE – The secretary-general of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged the U.S. to invest more in South East Asia and to put aside tensions with China ahead of his meeting with President Biden over the weekend.
"Of course, U.S. investment is one of the biggest now in the region already, but perhaps more investment" would help the region, ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview.
"For example, we have U.S. Peace Corps volunteers working closely in Cambodia. We have projects in the health sector, in the environment sector, across sectors that we’ve been working on together in counterterrorism," Kao explained. "So I think it is good to continue to expand and strengthen all the areas of cooperation at all levels."
Biden will visit Cambodia as part of his global tour that will include Egypt and Indonesia, as well as a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kao spoke excitedly about the upcoming, historic meeting with Biden, but insisted Southeast Asia needs the U.S. to play a "benign" role and not bring "geopolitical rivalry and tension" to the region.
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"I believe we want to see strategic trust being increased and [everyone] working together," Kao said. "Of course, where there is, what we call, a trust deficit, that’s where we should look on and try to … increase the level of cooperation across sectors."
"The similarity between us and [China] is deep, but also between us and the U.S.," he added, urging the U.S. to make such relationships "sustainable and close in the long-term."