Pompeo touts US support for Asean
published : 1 Aug 2019 at 19:46
writer: Thana Boonlert
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pledged the United States' unwavering support for the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific that was ratified during the 34th Asean Summit in Bangkok in June.
He also affirmed the US' commitment to Asean centrality under President Donald Trump's leadership.
"I was heartened to see that Asean has released its outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which supports sovereignty, transparency, good governance, and rule-based order," he said on Thursday at the Asean-US Ministerial Meeting, co-chaired by the US and Laos.
Mr Pompeo stressed the US is not asking Indo-Pacific nations to choose between countries.
"Our engagement in this region has not been and will never be a zero-sum game exercise. Our interest simply converges with yours for mutual benefits," he said.
Mr Pompeo said US diplomacy with the bloc has been consistently guided by partnership, respect for sovereignty, and a shared commitment to the fundamental rule of law, human rights and sustainable economic growth.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the bloc, Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith said Asean and the US are partners with a shared vision for peace, stability and security in the region.
"Both sides of the partnership are committed to strengthening a broad spectrum of areas for mutual benefits," he said.
He added Asean welcomes the US' keen interest in expanding its engagement in areas of mutual interest, such as smart cities, cybersecurity, and energy.
Among these areas of mutual interest is economic cooperation. "Our partnership is one of mutual benefit with two-way trade, that reached, as of 2018, US$260 million (8 billion baht), making the US our largest trading partner. We look forward to increasing economic cooperation with the US in the coming years," he said.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks said Asean and the US will forge closer ties through a continued strategic partnership.
Ms Busadee said the bloc and the US are taking note of the progress in the implementation of the plan of action for the 2016-2020 Asean-US Strategic Partnership.
"The new plan for 2021-2025 will be drafted next year," she said after the meeting.
Ms Busadee said the bloc welcomed the US' contribution and support for Asean centrality through Asean-led mechanisms, including the EAS, the ARF, the ADMM Plus, and the Expanded Asean Maritime Forum.
She added more effort will go into improving digital connectivity, cybersecurity, technology, and smart cities.
"We appreciate the US' support for the Asean Smart Cities Network through its participation in the previous conference in June and the upcoming forum this month," she said.