PM accorded the honour as Malaysia is playing a pivotal role as the coordinating country for US-Asean relations from 2015-2018.

LOS ANGELES: Prime Minister Najib Razak has been accorded the honour of addressing the US-Asean Leaders’ Summit in Sunnylands, California, during the opening ceremony next Monday (Tuesday in Malaysia).

Malaysian Ambassador to the United States Awang Adek Hussin said Wednesday (Thursday in Malaysia) that Kuala Lumpur was given the honour due to its role as the coordinating country for US-Asean relations for the 2015-2018 period.

United States President Barack Obama was also scheduled to give his opening remarks along with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong of Laos, the current chair of Asean.

“Malaysia has an important role to play as a coordinating country for US-Asean relations,” Awang Adek told Malaysian journalists at a hotel here.

He said this was the first time the US-Asean Summit was being held outside Asean countries, thus signifying the importance of the relationship which they upgraded to a strategic partnership last year.

Awang Adek said total US-Asean trade stood at USD212.4 billion (about RM892 billion) in 2014, an increase of 2.7 per cent compared to 2013, and American investment amounted to USD13 billion (about RM54.6 billion) in 2014.

Substantiating further his point over the importance of the relationship economically, Awang Adek said the United States was the fourth largest trading partner of Asean as well as the fourth largest foreign investor for the 10-member grouping of Southeast Asian nations.

The fact that the two-day summit starting Monday would be held in Sunnylands, also dubbed as the Camp David of the West, showed how much importance Washington placed in its relationship with Asean, he said.

Previously, Obama had used the venue to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

Awang Adek believed that Washington would continue its policy towards Asean after Obama’s term ended at the end of this year, as the United States had a strategic interest in the region for economic prosperity, peace, security and stability.

During the summit, Awang Adek said, Obama and the 10 Asean leaders would discuss how the United States could facilitate the establishment of the Asean Economic Community through innovation and entrepreneurship.

He said they would also touch on the issues of terrorism, cross-border crime, as well as peace and security in the Asia Pacific region.

Najib was also expected to highlight youth entrepreneurship, women and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) issues during the discussion, he said.

A document to reflect on the principles of the leaders to further their strategic partnership was expected to be issued at the end of the summit.

Najib would be joined by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed at the summit.

Asean is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Najib, who will be on a week-long working visit to the United States starting Thursday would also be meeting the Malaysian diaspora and students in the city before proceeding to Sunnylands for the summit.

After the summit, Awang Adek said, Najib would head to San Francisco where he would meet fund managers and captains of industry, as well as visit two of the world’s giant technological companies— Apple Inc and Tesla Motors — to attract more investment and advanced technologies to Malaysia.

Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor is scheduled to visit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles here on Monday (Tuesday in Malaysia) and the Academic Talent of the University of California, Berkeley, in San Francisco on Wednesday (Thursday in Malaysia).


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