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(October 1, 2019) Trump visit could bolster US Indo-Pacific strategy

With only four weeks to go before the 35th Asean-related summits kick off at Muangthong Thani, the White House has said nothing to indicate whether President Donald Trump will be coming to Bangkok. Asked about it these past couple of days, Washington movers and shakers have said in unison: Anything can happen. Mr Trump is now facing the threat of impeachment from a Democratic Party-led inquiry. It is pretty common these days to factor in a high level of unpredictability for all transactions with the US, especially when they involve the US presidency.

As the Asean chair, Thailand's top priority is to ensure that all leaders of the East Asia Summit come to Bangkok to take part in the region's most important gathering of the year. For the past 10 years, since the expansion of the East Asia Summit in 2010, the leaders of the US, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand have met with their Asean counterparts every year. It is a rare opportunity for them to spend quality time together to discuss major regional and global issues. But the levels of representative they send has differed from year to year.