US affirms enduring commitment to ASEAN

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said the US has long been a friend to ASEAN countries, stressing the US stands with ASEAN partners in combating COVID-19 and enabling regional economic recovery.
September 12, 2020 | 09:18
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US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on September 11 issued a statement, affirming the US’s enduring commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to

America has long been a friend to ASEAN countries. At the ASEAN-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ meeting recently, I reaffirmed US support for ASEAN’s role at the heart of the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

According to the Secretary, the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific and the US Indo-Pacific Strategy share a respect for sovereignty, the rule of law, transparency, openness, and inclusivity. These shared principles form the core of the work between the US and ASEAN and are the basis for this week’s launch of the Mekong-US Partnership.

“We reiterate US support for ASEAN as it speaks with a strong, collective voice to advance these shared values,” he continued.

Pompeo also underscored the US’s commitment to speak out in the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s escalating aggression and threats to sovereign nations’ ability to make free choices.

We stand with our ASEAN partners as we insist on the rule of law and respect for sovereignty in the South China Sea [Bien Dong Sea], where Beijing has pursued aggressive campaigns of coercion and environmental devastation. We stand for transparency and respect in the Mekong region, where the CCP has abetted arms and narcotics trafficking and unilaterally manipulated upstream dams, exacerbating an historic drought. And we stand for open and rules-based economic growth, in contrast to the opaque and predatory business practices of Beijing’s state-owned actors, such as China Communications Construction Company,” he said.

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The Secretary stressed the US stands with ASEAN partners in combating COVID-19 and enabling regional economic recovery.

Building on the US-ASEAN Health Futures initiative and the over $87 million US government assistance to fight COVID-19, including the delivery so far of 850 ventilators to Indonesia and 100 to the Philippines, we are announcing additional USAID support for One Health Workforce-Next Generation to help ASEAN countries prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies.

Additionally, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expanding its engagement through a new CDC regional office in Hanoi and the US-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership is launching initiatives in health, along with new agreements in water management and transportation, according to Pompeo.

To continue to promote economic prosperity in the region, the US, through the US Development Finance Corporation, is investing in needed infrastructure. The US will also co-host with Vietnam the third Indo-Pacific Business Forum to foster millions of dollars in US investment in an open, transparent, and rules-based manner.

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This image taken from video provided by VTV shows U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking during an online meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. During the meeting, Pompeo slashed out on China saying Beijing does not respect fundamental democratic values and urged ASEAN nations to act against China's dominance. (VTV via AP)

To promote human capital development and provide people with skills and knowledge to participate and compete in the global economy, the US Department of State intends to provide $5 million for the new Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV) in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

As the US expands its strategic partnership with ASEAN, the country must also address some of the critical challenges facing the region, the Secretary said in the statement.

“We continue to urge the DPRK to end provocations, abide by its obligations under the UNSCRs, and engage in sustained negotiations to achieve complete denuclearization.”

He also urged ASEAN countries to continue efforts to fully implement the grouping’s obligations under the UN resolutions.

Expressing concerns over the continued violence in Burma’s Rakhine State, Pompeo called for a cessation of fighting, negotiated solutions, and deepened efforts to address the root causes of violence to facilitate the dignified, safe, voluntary, and sustainable return of IDPs and refugees./.

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