ASEAN talks with visiting global leaders

Southeast Asian heads of government have held talks with visiting global leaders and were due to meet US President Joe Biden, as the region tries to navigate the growing rivalry between China and Western powers.

Cambodia is hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) annual summit and a parallel East Asian Summit, with the regional bloc engaging a host of leaders, including Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

The event is the first in a series of summits in Southeast Asia over the next seven days that are expected to tackle tricky global issues, from the war in Ukraine, climate, and regional tensions over the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and North Korean missile launches.

At one of Saturday's meetings with ASEAN, South Korea's Yoon proposed a mechanism for a three-way dialogue with China and Japan including a leadership summit to address future crises including from the impacts of war, on areas like security of food and energy security and climate change.

Yoon also said North Korea's attempts to boost its nuclear and missile capabilities were a serious threat to the international community, which needed to respond with one voice.

Japan's Kishida echoed those concerns, describing North Korea's recent ballistic missile launches, including one that flew over Japan, as unacceptable international threats.

During a brief exchange with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Kishida said the two countries should strive toward building a "constructive and stable" relationship.

Biden will focus on the Indo-Pacific region and talk about US commitment to a rules-based international order in the South China Sea in his discussions, senior administration officials said earlier this week.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will also attend some meetings in Phnom Penh, while Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is also in Cambodia after signing a Treaty of Amity and Co-operation with ASEAN, as Kyiv seeks to strengthen ties with the bloc.

Kuleba said he held direct talks with several leaders of ASEAN countries, during which he urged them to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, warning that staying neutral was not in their interests.

He said he also urged them to prevent Russia holding up the movement of Ukrainian agricultural products under a Black Sea grain deal, which could expire on Nov. 19.

The United Nations says 10 million tonnes of grain and other foods have been exported from Ukraine under the arrangement made in July, but warns the war will leave millions more hungry.

"I call on all ASEAN members to take every method possible to stop Russia from playing hunger games with the world," Kuleba told a news conference.

G20 leaders are meeting in Bali next week and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum takes place in Bangkok after that.

Lavrov will represent Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bali, while hosts Indonesia on Saturday confirmed Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will address the G20 meeting virtually.

ASEAN leaders on Friday issued a "warning" to Myanmar to make measurable progress on a peace plan or risk being barred from the bloc's meetings, as social and political chaos escalates in the country.

ASEAN leaders also discussed other tensions in the region, including the Korean peninsula and Taiwan, with leaders including China's premier and South Korea's president in separate meetings.

ASEAN also agreed in principle to admit East Timor as the group's 11th member. Asia's youngest democracy started the process of accession in 2002, but only formally applied for membership in 2011.