ASEAN, Navy Leaders meet onboard USS Blue Ridge

Jakarta, Indonesia – Leaders from the United States met with ASEAN representatives from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and the U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN onboard the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge June 15.

The purpose of the meeting was to highlight the commitment of U.S. Navy to the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening communication ties and building on long-established partnerships.

The theme of the meeting was “Opportunities & Challenges in the ASEAN Region,” with a focus on regional stability and cooperation, South China Sea security, and commitment to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific rebalance.

“The goal of our partnerships is to enhance security and stability in the region, which are the driving forces behind growth and prosperity in the ASEAN nations,” said U.S. 7th Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Scott H. Swift.

Originally established in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is now comprised of ten member states (Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam).  The U.S. Mission to ASEAN works with ASEAN and all of its member-states to advance the development of a strong and integrated Southeast Asian community that is secure, prosperous, and democratic.

With the 2008 adoption of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN has undertaken an ambitious work program aimed at creating an integrated ASEAN Community by 2015.  The Association has organized its scope of work into three pillars: the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

The United States began engagement with ASEAN as a dialogue partner in 1977 and has actively maintained cooperation with ASEAN ever since. Starting in the early 1990s, development cooperation has increased dramatically through the launch of economic programs focusing on trade and investment, technology transfer, and education.

Recently, the U.S. and ASEAN have redoubled engagement on many issues. Political and security discussions have focused on the role of the United States in maintaining peace and stability in the region, nuclear non-proliferation, regional security issues, and the Korean Peninsula. Economic engagement has seen the successful establishment of the Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement, and four ASEAN Member States have joined the TPP negotiations.  The U.S. has launched the U.S. Asia Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership with Brunei and Indonesia to promote renewable and alternative energy in the Asia Pacific.  U.S.-ASEAN development cooperation has also focused on capacity building efforts in science and technology, education, disaster management, food security, human rights, and trade facilitation.

The United States was the very first non-ASEAN country to name an Ambassador to ASEAN; currently the post is held by Ambassador David Carden.