ASEAN meeting grapples with trade war, territorial disputes

ASEAN meeting grapples with trade war, territorial disputes
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad smiles as he listens to a question during the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS), a parallel event to the ASEAN summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

NONTHABURI, Thailand (AP) — Malaysia’s prime minister has urged leaders in Southeast Asia to use the sway of their shared market of 650 million people and speak with “one voice” to get fair access to world trade.

Mahathir Mohamad told business leaders on the sidelines of a regional summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that they should unite in fighting back if countries try to shut them out of their markets.

The image of unity ASEAN strives to project is clouded by wrangling over a long-delayed agreement on a free trade bloc. The 10-nation bloc is also divided over handling of territorial disputes with China.

President Donald Trump opted not to attend the meetings outside Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. The sharp-tongued Mahathir had some harsh words for the U.S. leader and his policies.