National security adviser, Commerce Secretary to represent Trump at Asian summit

National security adviser Robert O’Brien and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit two regional summits in Thailand on President Trump‘s behalf this weekend, the White House announced Tuesday.

According to The Associated Press, O’Brien, who isn’t technically a part of Trump’s Cabinet, will attend the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and the subsequent East Asia summit.

At both summits, O’Brien, who became Trump’s national security adviser in September after John Bolton was ousted, will engage in sideline talks that include other major players in the region, including China, Japan and South Korea.

Ross will head a trade delegation Nov. 3-8 in Bangkok and is set to speak at an Indo-Pacific Business Forum on Monday, the AP reports. 

While Trump attended the summits in 2017, Vice President Pence attended the meetings last year in lieu of the president. 

Busadee Santipataks, director-general of Thailand’s Foreign Ministry’s Department of Information, told the AP that “the presence of the U.S. in these meetings will surely contribute constructively to these ASEAN-U.S. meetings.”

However, a major part of the summit that won’t include the U.S. is the working of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The free-trade agreement would include all members of ASEAN and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

If the agreement comes to fruition it would reportedly create one of the world’s largest trading blocs, accounting for roughly 45 percent of the world’s population and nearly a third of global gross domestic product.

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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