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Southeast Asian leaders cozy up to Trump with trade carrots

Singapore's Lee the latest leader to seek continued US presence to ward off China

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, back center, and U.S. President Donald Trump, back right, attend the signing of a contract between Singapore Airlines and Boeing.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong put trade front and center while visiting the White House on Monday, following a strategy illustrated by his Malaysian and Thai counterparts to appease the U.S. amid Chinese expansionism in Southeast Asia.

Singapore Airlines signed a $13.8 billion contract on the sidelines of the summit to purchase aircraft from American manufacturer Boeing. Later, when Lee joked that Singapore Airlines "is not a bad airline," Trump responded, "That's because they buy Boeing, right?"

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