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International relations

Trump skips ASEAN Summit again, ceding influence to China

Beijing will push agenda in region on South China Sea and free trade pact

President Donald Trump departs early from the ASEAN regional summit held in Manila in 2017.    © Reuters

BANGKOK -- For the third straight year, U.S. President Donald Trump will miss a key regional gathering in Asia, sending U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in his stead.

The week of Asian diplomacy, starting with the annual summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which kicked off on Thursday, and the East Asia Summit, which opens Monday, will once again offer China a front seat for discussions that will drive Southeast Asia's policy agenda.

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