SINGAPORE: The United States remains committed to ASEAN centrality and its strategy in the Indo-Pacific, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday (Aug 3).
Speaking at the start of a ministerial meeting between the United States and the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said that the US looks forward to deepening and broadening its strategic partnership with the region.
Delivering the opening remarks at the start of the meeting, Mr Pompeo cited the attendance of US President Donald Trump at the ASEAN-US Commemorative Summit and the East Asia Summit held in Manila last year, as well as other Cabinet secretaries’ visits to the region.
“I expect and am eager for this frequent engagement to continue,” he said.
Mr Pompeo is in Singapore for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and other related meetings held at the Singapore Expo over the course of this week.
Earlier, he had announced US$113 million in new regional investments focused on technology, energy and infrastructure, an announcement that he also referred to in his remarks.
Mr Pompeo added that the economic engagement between the US and ASEAN has created “thousands of jobs” on both sides of the Pacific. ASEAN, he said, is the number one destination for US investment in Asia, and ASEAN member states have increased their investment in the US by more than 1,300 per cent between 2004 and 2016.
“Our policy cooperation in issues like ICT, energy, transportation and agriculture is also developing rapidly,” he said.
He added that he appreciates ASEAN’s ongoing efforts to promote peace and stability in the region, supporting the rule of law in the South China Sea and in strictly enforcing sanctions on North Korea. The US, he said, is also working with ASEAN member states to counter the threat of terrorism and violent extremism in the region.
In delivering his opening remarks, Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Saifuddin Abdullah, who co-chaired the meeting with Mr Pompeo, noted that ASEAN member states appreciate the US’ role in maintaining peace, security and stability in the region.
“We also appreciate the US’ constructive role in helping us evolve a rules-based regional architecture through various ASEAN-led mechanisms, with a greater sense of ASEAN centrality and unity,” he said.
“ASEAN looks forward to working closely with the US to bring our partnership to a higher trajectory,” he added. “We also look forward to exchanging views and information on regional and international issues of mutual interest.”