The United States and ASEAN held the 34th annual U.S.-ASEAN Dialogue on May 5 (May 6 in Southeast Asia) to discuss cooperation under our strategic partnership. Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Atul Keshap co-chaired with Lao PDR Deputy Foreign Minister Bounleua Phandanouvong. Ambassador Keshap reaffirmed the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to reinvigorating our multilateral partnerships and to ASEAN centrality. He discussed pressing regional and international issues with his ASEAN counterparts including the need to uphold a rules-based international order, support for peaceful arbitration of disputes, and the promotion of sovereignty in the Indo-Pacific. He expressed support for ASEAN’s role in returning Burma to a path to democracy, called for the junta to immediately end the violence and release those unjustly detained for exercising their human rights, including journalists detained for their work, and emphasized the need for ASEAN to hold Burma’s military accountable to the five-point consensus endorsed by ASEAN leaders on April 24.
Ambassador Keshap reiterated ASEAN’s role as a key partner and stressed that the United States stands resolutely with our friends in Southeast Asia to promote respect for human rights, the rule of law, and good governance. He underlined the U.S. commitment to increasing mutual investment, trade, and economic ties with and between ASEAN countries, highlighting ASEAN as the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner. He also underscored the U.S. government’s strong support to the region in the fight against COVID-19, highlighting the United States’ $112 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to ASEAN countries. He emphasized the U.S. role as the largest single donor to COVAX and U.S. collaboration with partners to expand vaccine production. He also highlighted the importance of people-to-people ties and U.S.-ASEAN efforts to create opportunities and build human capital on both sides of the Pacific.
Ambassador Keshap raised the Administration’s renewed focus that places climate change at the center of foreign policy. He stressed support for countries most vulnerable to climate change, including those within ASEAN, and for a shared effort to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Ambassador Keshap highlighted the ongoing work of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, which promotes transparency, sovereignty, and inclusive growth and helps tackle cross-border challenges across the Mekong River Basin.
Ambassador Keshap and Deputy Foreign Minister Bounleua Phandanouvong were joined by Brunei Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Emaleen Abdul Rahman Teo, Burma Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chan Aye, Cambodia Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Secretary of State for ASEAN Eat Sophea, Indonesia Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for ASEAN Cooperation Sidharto Reza Suryodipuro, Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Dato’ Sri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs Acting Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs Elizabeth P. Buensuceso, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs Second Permanent Secretary Stanley Loh, Thailand Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thani Thongphakdi, Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, and ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Robert Matheus Michael Tene.