1st ASEAN-U.S. Leaders' Meeting underlines important role of ASEAN

November 16, 2009 10:20 am 

JAKARTA, Nov. 16 — The historic first Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN-U.S.) Leaders' Meeting, in recognition of ASEAN’s growing capacity and role in global issues, concluded in agreement today on the importance of continuing dialogue at the highest level between the two sides.

The United States will support ASEAN's continuing role in multilateral efforts where ASEAN has a growing ability to make contributions, the Leaders said in a Joint Statement released after the meeting. “The President of the United States also supported regional efforts initiated by ASEAN and ASEAN-led fora, to address the impact of the global financial and economic crisis in the region and looked forward to continued close coordination between such regional efforts and the global efforts undertaken by the G-20,” they went on to say.

Also in recognition of the important role of ASEAN in regional issues, both sides said that it shared a vision of a regional architecture that is inclusive, promotes shared values and norms, and respects the diversity within the region.

“We agreed to work closely together in building this regional architecture, and were ready to study initiatives of this nature. We reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN centrality in this process,” the statement reads.

In welcoming the outcome of the meeting, the Secretary-General of ASEAN said that “the successive and proactive re-engagement of ASEAN and the U.S. has brought about a transformation of seismic proportions to ASEAN-U.S. relations”. This re-engagement, said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, comes in the wake of a series of initiatives undertaken earlier this year including the visit by the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to the ASEAN Secretariat in February 2009 and her participation at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2009 in Phuket, Thailand. The U.S. had also acceded to ASEAN’s 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation recently.

The meeting in Singapore was co-chaired by H.E. Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, in his capacity as Chairman of ASEAN, and the Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, who in his remarks had referred to ASEAN as an “organization of global importance”. President Obama was also quoted as saying that, the “U.S. is not just a Dialogue Partner but a member of the ASEAN family due to linkages with families in America.”

In support of enhanced ASEAN-U.S. cooperation in addressing regional and global issues, both sides agreed to increase collaboration and will establish an ASEAN-U.S. Eminent Persons Group. Reflecting the importance of economic ties between ASEAN and the U.S., the Leaders also stressed the need to further enhance economic cooperation and partnership through new initiatives to be agreed upon by the ASEAN Trade Ministers and the United States Trade Representative.

Reflecting the broad areas of cooperation between ASEAN and the U.S., the Leaders also discussed issues relating to international terrorism and transnational crime; non-proliferation and disarmament; climate change; energy and food security; disaster relief and pandemic preparedness.

The second ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Meeting is scheduled for 2010. (PNA)

ALM/PR/mec

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