Trump skips Asian summits as China set to expand influence

HANOI: President Donald Trump skipped summits with his Asian counterparts for the third year in a row on Saturday, even as rival China is set to expand its influence with a massive free trade deal in the region.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Trump regretted he was unable to attend the online summit with the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but stressed the importance of ties with the region.

“At this time of global crisis, the U.S.-ASEAN strategic partnership has become even more important as we work together to combat the coronavirus,” O’Brien said in remarks at the opening ceremony, which was livestreamed to ASEAN members watching from their respective countries. - AP �g�