U.S. President Joe Biden said on Saturday a first summit in Washington, D.C., with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) marked the launch of a “new era” in the relationship between the United States and the 10-nation bloc.
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Joe Biden called the U.S.-ASEAN partnership “critical” and said: “We’re launching a new era – a new era – in U.S.-ASEAN relations.” Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States would remain in Southeast Asia for “generations” and stressed the need to maintain freedom of the seas, which the United States says is challenged by China. “The United States and ASEAN have shared a vision for this region, and together we will guard against threats to international rules and norms,” Harris said.
Joe Biden on Friday announced the nomination of Yohannes Abraham, chief of staff on his National Security Council, to be ambassador to ASEAN, filling a post vacant since the start of Donald Trump’s administration in 2017. Biden is working on other initiatives, including “Build Back Better World” infrastructure investment and an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
In a joint 28-point “vision statement” after a two-day meeting, the two sides took what analysts called a symbolic step of committing to raise their relationship from a strategic partnership to a “comprehensive strategic partnership. To be signed at the 10th ASEAN-U.S. Summit in November 2022.
On Ukraine, they reaffirmed “respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity,” wording that a regional expert said went further than past ASEAN statements. The statement did not condemn Russia by name for its Feb. 24 invasion.
28 Points Joint Vision Statement
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