Mr. Biden also announced Friday that he would appoint his chief of staff and executive secretary to the National Security Council, Yohannes Abraham, as ambassador to ASEAN.
ASEAN has not had a US ambassador since January 2017.
On Friday, Mr. Lee also met with the President’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, for a bilateral meeting and attended a working lunch hosted by Ms. Harris, which focused on maritime cooperation and pandemic recovery.
RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE
Mr. Lee answered questions from journalists about ASEAN leaders’ involvement with Mr. Biden regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While ASEAN has taken a stand and issued a statement “as a whole,” the statement is “not as strong as it could be” as different countries have different views, he said.
For example, when the UN General Assembly voted to exclude Russia from the Human Rights Council, Vietnam and Laos abstained while the other countries voted in favour, Mr Lee noted. Singapore also abstained.
“If you look at the national statements and the national actions, I think Singapore’s most overt statement is that we’ve made and we’ve also had some targeted sanctions against Russia,” he said, adding that Cambodia also has a strong stance have taken on this subject.
“I think Prime Minister Hun Sen has made his position very clear and emphatic that there must be absolute rules against violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty and independence of other countries. Where else do small countries stand?” said Mr. Lee.
CLOSET CHANGES MAY COME NEXT MONTH
The prime minister also told journalists he could make changes in the cabinet in early June.
Mr Lee was responding to a question about whether there were any updates on cabinet movements and succession plans, about a month after Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong was elected to lead the fourth-generation, or 4G, leadership team of the People’s Action Party (PAP).
The announcement, made in Singapore on April 14, paves the way for Mr Wong to become Singapore’s next prime minister. He was the first choice with an “overwhelming majority,” said retired minister Khaw Boon Wan at the time.
“I had to focus on this trip and I have another trip coming up in two weeks leading up to the Nikkei Conference (in Japan),” said Mr. Lee. “But I’m working on it. I hope to be able to do it when I’m done with my travels, which is early June.”
At a press conference after Mr Wong was named 4G leader in April, Mr Lee had said whether he or Mr Wong would lead the PAP in the next election was a decision to be made later.
“I’ll talk to Lawrence about it and we’ll decide later what’s the best strategy for us to fight in the next general election,” the prime minister told reporters at the time, adding that it would depend on “how things go.” develop things”.
The next general election must take place by 2025.
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