US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Photo: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with the foreign ministers of Southeast Asian countries on May 4 in Washington ahead of planned regional summits in November, a State Department official said on Thursday (Apr 20).
The foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) requested the meeting with Tillerson in an effort to engage with the new US administration, said Patrick Murphy, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia.
Tillerson and the ministers are likely to discuss trade, territorial claims in the South China Sea, trafficking, crime and other issues.
"Secretary Tillerson received a request from the ASEAN foreign ministers, who offered, on their part, to come to Washington to see him early in the year, prior to the planned multilateral meetings that take place in August in the Philippines," said Murphy. "Secretary Tillerson readily agreed."
He added: "So at the end of the day, he will be hosting them, but he agreed with their request to meet in a special session that will take place on May 4. I think we’ll be very delighted to have the foreign ministers here."
Murphy also said that Defence Secretary James Mattis "has made a commitment to go to the Shangri-La Dialogue (Jun 2-4) in Singapore".