Senior US diplomat visits Australia

Australia is preparing to welcome a deputy secretary of state next week as the US seeks deeper engagement in the Pacific.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is scheduled to visit Canberra to meet with Foreign Minister Penny Wong and officials as the two countries battle a more aggressive China.

Sherman, who will be in the Australian capital on Monday, will visit Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand over the next week as the United States seeks to increase its presence in the region.

The diplomatic visit comes amid growing strategic competition in Southeast Asia amid fears of a possible Chinese military presence in Cambodia at a naval base in the Gulf of Thailand.

According to the Beijing-controlled Xinhua News Agency, the two Asian countries agreed on Wednesday to “inherit traditional friendships and actively build a Sino-Cambodian community to share a future.”

Senator Wong is in Cambodia for ASEAN talks with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken, one day after US Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan, angering Beijing.

Tensions over Taiwan were front and center when the Southeast Asian bloc met on Thursday, with a joint statement by ASEAN foreign ministers calling for “a miscalculation, a serious confrontation, an open conflict and an unpredictable crisis between major powers.” He urged relaxation of tensions prior to the “result”.

“ASEAN stands ready to play a constructive role in promoting peaceful dialogue between all parties,” the statement said.

Senator Wong told reporters it was an “auspicious” year in which Australia and Cambodia established 70 years of diplomatic ties and expressed concern about stability in the region.

“We live in a region that is being reshaped. Every country will make its own decisions on how to navigate through that reshaping,” she told reporters in Phnom Penh.

“I hope that together we can shape a region that benefits all countries, not only in terms of bilateral relations, but also with Cambodia as an important ASEAN member.

“We want a region where sovereignty is respected through traffic rules, rather than power and power alone making decisions.”

with Reuters

Senior US diplomat visits Australia

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