SECRETARY BLINKEN: Foreign Minister Marsudi, thank you very, very much. Thank you for your leadership as ASEAN chair and thank you for your leadership as the U.S. country coordinator, and especially for your friendship.
To Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, I’m very much looking forward to Laos chairing ASEAN in 2024.
And Secretary General, we are grateful to you for your stewardship of the organization and your investment in our comprehensive partnership.
I also want to begin by thanking my own team and especially Ambassador Abraham for all that he has done to strengthen and deepen U.S.-ASEAN relations. Yohannes is one of President Biden’s most trusted advisors, and we are very glad to have him here in Jakarta.
So this is my 12th trip to the Indo-Pacific during this administration, my fourth to Indonesia, my third to an ASEAN ministerial. Each time I visit, I am struck by the incredible dynamism of this region and the critical importance of our partnership.
Our relationship with ASEAN is at the heart of our engagement in the Indo-Pacific, a region that, more than any other, will shape the trajectory of the 21st century. Both the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific underscore ASEAN’s centrality, and we share a vision of an Indo-Pacific that is free, open, prosperous, secure, connected, and resilient. And what does that mean? That means a region where countries are free to choose their own path and their own partners; where problems are dealt with openly – not through coercion; where rules are reached transparently and applied fairly; where goods, ideas, people flow lawfully and freely across the land, the seas, the skies, and cyberspace.
That’s why we upgraded the U.S.-ASEAN relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership last year. And it’s why we’ve worked so hard to put that enhanced partnership into concrete action.
Together, we are delivering on the issues that matter most to the lives of our people: expanding access to the Internet and other technologies that small businesses and entrepreneurs need to compete in the 21st century economy; helping communities adapt to the growing effects of a warming climate, and building their resilience to the changes to come; improving the capacity of health systems to deliver on basic needs like maternal and child health. The five high-level dialogues that we’ve added at last year’s Special Summit are helping to drive progress in health, in transportation, women’s empowerment, the environment, climate, and energy.
Because of this growing collaboration, more electric vehicles, electric buses, even electric tuk-tuks will soon traverse Jakarta’s streets. More women entrepreneurs are receiving training to support their businesses and their careers. More young leaders are acquiring the tools to transform their communities – like the Young Southeast Asian Leaders that I met just this morning, who are doing everything from improving public health, to advocating for survivors of gender-based violence, to empowering refugees.
Elevating our cooperation also means deepening efforts to tackle together complex challenges that are affecting the region and, in fact, the entire planet.
In Myanmar, we must press the military regime to stop the violence, to implement ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, to support a return to democratic governance. Just yesterday, the United States announced over $74 million in additional humanitarian relief to the region, including nearly $61 million to support Rohingya displaced by ongoing violence in Myanmar.
We need to work to end North Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction program and ballistic missile launches – yet another one just this week – which threaten the region and the global nonproliferation regime.
We must uphold the freedom of navigation in the South and East China Seas and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
And we must push for a just and lasting peace to Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine – a war that violates principles at the heart of ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and the United Nations Charter. It’s harming not only Ukrainians, but people across this region and around the world by exacerbating food and energy crises.
When President Biden hosted the Special Summit in May of last year, he said, and I quote, we’re “launching a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations.” I can’t think of a more important charge, or a more important moment to elevate our partnership. We have taken significant steps forward over the past year. I am very much looking forward to working together to accelerate our progress this afternoon and in the weeks and months ahead.
So to all of our colleagues here today, thank you very, very much.