Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei visited the White House and met briefly in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama after bilateral talks today. The country of Brunei will be the host of this year's East Asia summit and US-ASEAN summit. President Obama and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's bilateral meeting in the White House as they talked about US-Brunei cooperation as well as the coming summits.
President Obama said that it is "a good time for a meeting here in the Oval Office is because His Majesty will be hosting the next ASEAN East Asia Summit meeting in Brunei this October. There are a range of issues that we’ve worked on together, and that should be no surprise because the friendship between the United States and Brunei actually dates back 160 years."
President Obama talked about the maritime dispute in the South China Sea, while the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah didn't mention the dispute, even though Brunei is also a claimant of a small part of the sea.
President Obama joked "His Majesty himself has led his country for 40 years now and he’s gone through nine U.S. Presidents. I won’t ask him which one was his favorite."
According to Forbes magazine in 2012, Brunei was ranked the 5th richest country in the world among 182 countries for its rich oil reserves. President Obama said that "he got here yesterday and flew in his own 747, meaning he actually piloted it himself. I think he’s probably the only head of state in the world who flies a 747 himself. And so in case Air Force One pilots have problems, we know who to consult."
He encouraged the Sultan to shop. "And my understanding is tomorrow he’s going to have an opportunity to take his family up to New York, where we’re going to encourage him to do some shopping because we want to continue to strengthen the U.S. economy."
The Sultan thanked President Obama for the invitation and said the "visit gives me a good opportunity to renew the longstanding and warm friendship between Brunei Darussalam and the United States -- the relations, which dated back to 1850, with the signing of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation, soon after the USS Constitution called at our port."
"As ASEAN chair, we have extended an invitation to President Obama to the East Asia Summit and the first ASEAN-U.S. Leaders Summit in October this year," said the Sultan. A White House official confirmed that the President does plan to attend the East Asia Summit this year. Details will be released at that time.
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