Mr Biden also announced Friday that he would nominate 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 Presidential Special Envoy for Climate 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 UKRANEA
Mr Lee answered questions from journalists about ASEAN leaders’ involvement with Mr Biden over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While ASEAN has taken a stance 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.
For example, when the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, Vietnam and Laos abstained, while the other countries voted, Mr Lee noted. Singapore also abstained.
“If you look at the national statements and the national actions, I think Singapore’s is the most candid statement we’ve issued and we’ve had some targeted sanctions against Russia as well,” he said, adding that Cambodia also has a strong position on the matter. †
“I think Prime Minister Hun Sen was quite unequivocal and emphatic in explaining his position that there should be absolute rules against violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty and independence of other countries. Where else are small countries standing?” said Mr Leen.
CABINET CHANGES MAY COME NEXT MONTH
The prime minister also told journalists he could make changes to the cabinet in early June.
Mr Lee responded to a question about whether there were any updates on cabinet moves and succession plans, about a month after Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong was elected as the leader of the People’s Action Party (PAP) fourth-generation or 4G leadership team.
The announcement, made on April 14 in Singapore, paves the way for Mr Wong to become Singapore’s next Prime Minister. He was the first choice by an “overwhelming majority,” then-minister Khaw Boon Wan said.
“I had to focus on this trip and another trip is scheduled in two weeks to the Nikkei conference (in Japan),” said Mr. Lee. “But I’m working on it. I hope I can do it when I’m done with my travels, so early June.’
At a press conference after Mr. Wong was named as the 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 will discuss with Lawrence, and we will decide later what the best strategy is for us to fight the next general election,” the prime minister told reporters at the time, adding that it will depend on “how things evolve.”
The next general election is due in 2025.