The White House revealed in a statement yesterday that US President Donald Trump will not be attending the US-Asean and East Asia Summit (EAS) that are to be held in Singapore in November and will send Vice-President Mike Pence in his stead.
This is the first time in five years that a US President has missed the US-Asean and EAS meetings. In 2013, then-President Barack Obama sent his Vice-President Joe Biden to attend the summits in his place since he was dealing with the internal government shutdown in the US.
The White House said that Vice-President Pence will “highlight the United States’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, based on respect for sovereignty, the rule of law, and the principles of free, fair, and reciprocal trade.”
It added: “The Vice-President looks forward to meeting with our allies and partners from across the region to advance security, prosperity, and freedom for all.”
Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has responded to the announcement and said: “We welcome Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Singapore, which will be his first as Vice President, and his attendance at the 6th Asean-US Summit and 13th East Asia Summit.”
President Trump will also miss the Apec (Asia-Pacific Regional Cooperation) meeting in Papua New Guinea in November, that will be attended by his second-in-command.
Political analysts have said that November may be a tough time for the President to travel since the US mid-term election will be held on 6 Nov and may cause tensions for the President in case his party loses their majority in the House of Representatives.
Separately, some analysts have reportedly expressed doubts that the President would make a second trip to Singapore so soon after the 12 June US-North Korea summit in Sentosa, since he is allegedly not fond of long haul travel.