HÀ NỘI — The strategic partnership between the US and ASEAN representing the aspirations of nearly a billion of people has never been stronger and is a partnership of “free, equal and independent nations” which respect one another’s sovereignty.
That was the message from US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien who was speaking at the 8th ASEAN-US Summit on Saturday.
O’Brien, who is also Special Envoy of President Donald Trump, commended Việt Nam’s 2020 chairmanship and leadership in advancing ASEAN’s centrality and the US-ASEAN strategic partnership.
He said: “This is a special year for US-ASEAN as the two sides marked five years of the strategic partnership.
“At this time of global crisis, the US-ASEAN strategic partnership has become more important as we work together to combat coronavirus.”
The special envoy said the US appreciated ASEAN’s efforts to keep key supply chains open and factories operating.
He said the US was glad to contribute US$87 million and personal protective equipment to combat COVID-19 in the ASEAN region.
The US and ASEAN have partnered to build an area of public health and the fight against infectious diseases over the past two decades in an effort to “save American and ASEAN lives”.
He told the summit the two sides have witnessed robust co-operation against the pandemic and collaborated in science, health, education, livelihoods and security.
They have expanded security co-operation in various areas, working to reinforce international work. Last year, the US committed nearly $250 million to enhance ASEAN defence capacity and train many ASEAN service members.
The US has also supported ASEAN in developing the next generation of talent and promoting an independent future for children.
The US invested almost $2 billion in education, academics, culture, international exchange within ASEAN over the last 15 years, according to the envoy.
In terms of the US’ investment in economic growth in Southeast Asia, the US private sector invested $384 billion in ASEAN countries. ASEAN has been the US’ fourth largest trading partner and trade between the US and ASEAN reached over $354 billion last year.
In his opening remarks at the ASEAN-US summit, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said ASEAN and the US had maintained the partnership on the principle of mutual respect and understanding for the common goal of enhancing stability, development and cooperation for mutual interest over the four decades.
The global outbreak of the COVID-19, coupled with both traditional and non-traditional security challenges in the past year has made the need for cooperation and coordination between nations more urgent, he said.
“We appreciate the United States as one of the partners who actively promote many practical cooperation initiatives to assist ASEAN countries and the Southeast Asia region to improve their disease response capacity,” the Prime Minister said.
“In the spirit of ‘cohesive and responsive’, ASEAN want to strengthen effective cooperation and close coordination with the international community and partners, including the United States to respond promptly and effectively to emerging challenges, including controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, minimising its negative impact as well as maintaining a stable environment for countries to focus on economic recovery and promoting sustainable development,” he said.
At the meeting, ASEAN leaders affirmed that they would facilitate the operations of more than 4,200 US investors and businesses, including 350 leading ones in the region.
They also encouraged US businesses to prioritise a number of areas such as infrastructure development, clean energy, high technology and digital economy.
The ASEAN leaders welcomed the US for its active contribution to maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and aviation in the South China Sea (known as East Sea in Việt Nam).
They hoped the US would supports efforts to uphold international laws and serious implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the development of an effective and appropriate Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in accordance with international laws and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982). — VNS