US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to visit Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam

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According to the US embassy in Hanoi, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Southeast Asia later this month. His itinerary includes stops in the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.

“Secretary Austin’s visit will demonstrate the importance the Biden-Harris Administration places on Southeast Asia and on ASEAN as an essential part of the Indo-Pacific’s architecture,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc.

Austin’s travel will begin on July 23, according to the US embassy in Hanoi.

“This trip will underscore the enduring US commitment to the region, and our interest in upholding the rules-based international order in the region and promoting ASEAN centrality,” the embassy said in a Facebook post.

President Joe Biden of the United States is attempting to reaffirm the need for a US engagement in a region where China wields significant power as the major trading partner, but has strained relations as a result of its military activity in the West Philippine Sea.

After repeated warnings by President Rodrigo Duterte, whose term expires next year, to downgrade the alliance, Austin has worked to preserve decades-old military relations with the country, which is a defense treaty partner.

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