Leaders of Southeast Asian nations and the U.S. have agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership when meeting in Washington.
Receiving leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden said the event is a great opportunity for the U.S. and the bloc to evaluate their relationship and orient its future.
The reception was part of the ASEAN-U.S. Special Summit, which takes place on the two days of May 12 and 13 to marks the 45th anniversary of ASEAN-U.S. relations.
Biden said he highly appreciates the relationship and wishes to elevate it.
He pledged to support the central role of ASEAN and the ASEAN Perspective on the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. President Joe Biden arrives on the South Lawn of the White House to take part in the family photo for the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit on May 12, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images via AFP
Leaders of ASEAN and the U.S. have agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership and expect that it will develop in a substantive, effective and mutually beneficial manner.
The two sides officially established relations in 1977 and upgraded that to a Strategic Partnership on November 21, 2015. The U.S. established a Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta, Indonesia in June 2010 and appointed a full-time Ambassador to ASEAN in April 2011.
The U.S. is a major trading partner of ASEAN with an estimated total trade of $362 billion last year, nearly double that of 2009. It has also been the bloc’s largest investor for many years.
‘The right time’
Speaking at the White House event, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said “this is the right time for ASEAN and the U.S. to discuss new and better development milestones” and that maintaining peace and maintaining stability should be the top concern of both the bloc and the U.S.
PM Chinh said he hopes the U.S. would always support ASEAN to maintain its central role in the Asia-Indo-Pacific region, jointly contributing to building new directions for cooperation frameworks chaired by ASEAN, creating a “balanced and harmonious” environment in the region.
He also hopes that the U.S. and ASEAN would have sincere dialogues on the basis of trust and responsibility, and support the settlement of differences and disagreements, based on peaceful measures, in accordance with international law and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, a peace treaty among Southeast Asian countries established by the founding members of the ASEAN.
PM Pham Minh Chinh (R, 3rd) joins a dinner with U.S. President Joe Biden (R, 5th) and other ASEAN leaders at the White House, May 12, 2022. Photo by Duong Giang
Emphasizing the need to restore trade and investment flows and create momentum for the next phase, PM Chinh affirmed that Vietnam will apply the best measures to support U.S. investors and businesses to rapidly expand business in the Vietnam market and connect them with other markets in ASEAN.
He suggested the U.S., with its experience and resources, support ASEAN in green and sustainable development, economic restructuring, technology application, digital transformation, development of renewable energy, and speeding up comprehensive and sustainable recovery efforts.
ASEAN also expects Washington to promote cooperation initiatives within the framework of the Mekong-U.S. partnership, supporting equitable and sustainable development in the region.
Given the ongoing complex impacts and consequences of non-traditional challenges, Chinh emphasized the need to develop a global approach to solving global problems.
He said ASEAN countries hope that the U.S. will continue to cooperate and support them to strengthen and improve health capacity and effectively respond to other challenges like environmental degradation and climate change.
Just before the reception, the Biden administration announced a $150 million support package for new initiatives, including maritime cooperation and clean energy, in Southeast Asia.
The summit will see ASEAN leaders and the U.S. president hold separate and in-depth discussions on cooperation in areas including economy, trade, investment, maritime security, post-pandemic response and recovery, climate change response, energy, science and technology, and sustainable infrastructure development.
They are expected to adopt a Joint Vision Statement highlighting achievements of the past 45 years and orientations to promote bilateral relations in the coming time.
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