US President Donald Trump last week wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen to inform him of the delay in the US-Asean summit due to the Covid-19 outbreak. It was due to take place this weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, US.

In a letter dated March 2 and addressed to Hun Sen, Trump thanked him for accepting his invitation to the summit. He said the meeting was an excellent opportunity to advance the strategic partnership between the US and Asean.

The US president said Asean represented his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“Unfortunately, we must postpone this summit in light of the global risks posed by the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. I am sure we can all agree that our focus at this time must be on coordinating a global response that protects and secures the health and safety of our people,” Trump wrote.

He said his Department of Health and Human Services has been discussing strategies to protect against the virus with Asean governments. US experts, including those from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will continue to assist Asean nations, he said.

“As we continue to work tirelessly to respond to the spread of coronavirus, the cooperation between our nations will further demonstrate the strength of our broader strategic partnership,” the letter said.

Trump said in place of the summit, several initiatives have been scheduled to showcase the relationship between the two countries.

“We would still like to launch many of these great programmes, and we will look for opportunities to do so in the coming months,” he said.