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Pompeo says US not asking Asia to take sides

Posted at 12:43 AM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 03:43:51-04

BANGKOK (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington isn’t asking any Asian nation to take sides as it engages with the region, where China is battling for influence and aggressively expanding its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Pompeo hailed an Indo-Pacific engagement framework adopted by leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in June. The U.S.-China rivalry has put the Southeast Asian bloc in a tight spot, and the new framework is aimed at finding middle ground to keep on the good side of both Washington and Beijing.

Pompeo says at an annual meeting Thursday with his ASEAN counterparts that the U.S. involvement with the region is not a “zero sum exercise” and that U.S. interests converge with the region’s for mutual benefits.