US-Asean Summit postponed over virus fears

Donald Trump

A long-scheduled summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States will no longer push through as planned.

According to a report by Reuters, both parties decided to postpone the summit which was originally scheduled on March 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada over fears of the coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19). The leaders of the 10-member Asean were invited by US President Donald Trump after he failed to show up during the last ASEAN leaders meeting in Thailand.

“As the international community works together to defeat the novel coronavirus, the United States, in consultation with ASEAN partners, has made the difficult decision to postpone the ASEAN leaders meeting,” Reuters quoted a high source as saying.

The official said the United States “values our relationships with the nations of this critical region, and looks forward to future meetings.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the US remained at 60, most of which came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Yokohama, Japan.

The state of California confirmed the US’ second case, which was believed to have been transmitted to a person who did not travel overseas or come in contact with anyone ill.

The World Health Organization announced that the number of confirmed infections in China has soared to 82,000, of which 2,700 succumbed. Fifty-seven more deaths were recorded globally.

The virus which emerged in December last year has since sent global stock prices tumbling, even dragging Wall Street to its lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

On Thursday night, a White House official was quoted that the summit will still happen, adding that “everything was in place.”

“So this is a surprise,” the official added.