In an interview recently granted to the Vietnam News Agency, Brown said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praises Vietnam for its work convening ASEAN Foreign Ministers and dialogue partners during these unprecedented times.
"Vietnam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship is an opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation and collaboration. ASEAN demonstrates its effectiveness when the member states are unified and speak with one voice on regional security and economic challenges, she said.
Chargé d'Affaires of the US Mission to ASEAN Melissa A. Brown (Photo: Internet)
She expressed her hope that under Vietnam’s Chairmanship, ASEAN will stand together to address pressing regional challenges, such as maritime security, trans-national crime, terrorism, humanitarian crises, and the protection of human rights of the region’s most vulnerable populations.
Brown stressed that ASEAN is at the centre of the US’s vision for the Indo-Pacific region. At the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting, Secretary Pompeo reiterated the US’s support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and declared yet again that the US is an enduring, strategic partner to ASEAN.
At the meeting, Secretary Pompeo, along with the ASEAN foreign ministers, highlighted the breadth and depth of the US engagement and commitment to ASEAN on regional political, security, economic, and cultural issues. He announced new initiatives to develop human capital and health through the US-ASEAN Health Futures initiative, including a new programme to support an ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination System and the launch of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam.
At the 10th East Asia Summit Ministerial Meeting, Secretary Pompeo highlighted US support for principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, and respect for international law, which are shared with the ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo Pacific. At the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting, Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun also reiterated the importance of ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and highlighted US’s efforts and investments to advance the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in the Indo-Pacific region, she said.
According to her, Biegun, on behalf of Secretary Pompeo, also co-chaired the inaugural Mekong-US Partnership Meeting and launched the Mekong-US Partnership with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, in the presence of the ASEAN Secretary General. The Partnership will expand on cooperation begun in 2009 under the Lower Mekong Initiative by strengthening the autonomy, economic independence, and sustainable development of the Mekong partner countries.
During the above meetings, Pompeo conveyed a clear message on marine security and the need to halt aggressive and destabilising policies, including in the East Sea and the Mekong region. He said the US and the ASEAN member states share the common position that all disputes in the East Sea should be resolved peacefully and in line with international law, namely the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented global challenge and at the ASEAN ministerial meetings, Secretary Pompeo outlined the US’s efforts to leverage all available resources to develop safe, effective, affordable, and widely available vaccines and therapeutics to fight against the virus. The US Government has allocated 20.5 billion USD for the development of vaccines and therapeutics, preparedness efforts, and other foreign assistance. The US also provided over 87 million USD in emergency health and humanitarian assistance for ASEAN countries. The Secretary praised ASEAN’s unity and transparency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in his discussions.
At last, Pompeo underscored the US’s commitment to using all the tools at its disposal, including the support of the American private sector, to partner with the region in economic recovery efforts.
Trade in goods and services between the US and ASEAN was over 354 billion USD in 2019 and ASEAN is the US’s fourth largest trading partner. Programmes like the ASEAN Single Window, the US-ASEAN Internship Programme, and the US-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership are facilitating greater trade, creating new opportunities, and improving the lives of people across the region, Brown said./.