Biden also announced on Friday that he would appoint his chief of staff and executive secretary to the National Security Council Yohannes Abraham to serve 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 climate envoy John Kerry for a bilateral meeting and attended a working lunch hosted by Ms. Harris focused on maritime cooperation and pandemic recovery.
RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE
Mr. Lee answered reporters’ questions about ASEAN leaders’ engagement with Mr. Biden on Russia’s 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” because different countries have different views, he said. declared.
For example, when the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, Vietnam and Laos abstained, while other countries voted in favour, Lee noted. . Singapore also abstained in the vote.
“If you look at national statements and national actions, I think Singapore’s is the most outspoken statement, that we’ve issued and we’ve also had targeted sanctions against Russia,” he said, adding that Cambodia had also taken a firm position on the matter. .
“I think Prime Minister Hun Sen has been quite clear and adamant in his explanation of his position that there must be absolute rules against violating the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of others. countries. If not, where are the small countries?” said Mr. Lee.
CABINET CHANGES MAY COME NEXT MONTH
The prime minister also told reporters he could make cabinet changes in early June.
Mr Lee was responding to a question about whether there were any updates on Cabinet moves and succession plans, about a month after Finance Minister Lawrence Wong was chosen as the fourth-generation leader of the People’s Action Party (PAP), or 4G, leadership team. .
The announcement, made April 14 in Singapore, paves the way for Wong to become Singapore’s next prime minister. He was the first choice by an “overwhelming majority”, retired minister Khaw Boon Wan said at the time.
“I had to focus on this trip and I have another trip coming up in two weeks to go to the Nikkei conference (in Japan),” Mr Lee said. “But I’m working on it. I hope I can do it once I’m done with my travels, which is in early June.”
At a press conference after Mr. Wong was appointed head of 4G in April, Mr. Lee said that whether he or Mr. Wong would lead the PAP in the next election was a decision that would be taken later.
“I will discuss with Lawrence, and we will decide later what is the best strategy for us to fight the next general election,” the prime minister told reporters at the time, adding that it would depend on “how things develop.”
The next general election is to be held by 2025.