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White House Sticks With Group Diplomacy Rather Than One-on-Ones

Huong Le Thu is a senior analyst at The Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

At no point in the two-day schedule of the U.S.-ASEAN summit is there any time allocated for President Joe Biden to meet one-on-one with any of the visiting Southeast Asian leaders. Instead, the eight leaders will meet collectively with the President and other senior-level stakeholders.

This is not a new practice. President Barack Obama ruled out bilateral meetings during the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and Donald Trump did as well in 2017 when he opted instead for a group lunch in New York where he famously thanked the president of the non-existent country of “Nambia.”

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