ASEAN-United States Eminent Persons Group to Meet in Manila

The U.S.-ASEAN partnership will take another step forward on May 20-21 when the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) holds its inaugural meeting to add their collective wisdom and lessons to the growing cooperation between governments in this dynamic region. The U.S.-ASEAN Eminent Persons Group, composed of prominent individuals from all ASEAN member states and the United States, will meet for the first time on May 20-21 in Manila.

On November 15, 2009 during the 1st U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Singapore, President Barack Obama agreed with ASEAN to establish an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to advance the U.S.-ASEAN relationship.  Support for this forum was reiterated following U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meetings in 2010 and 2011.  The objective of the EPG is to recommend actions to U.S. and ASEAN leaders that will strengthen this relationship into the future.

The United States and each ASEAN member state selected distinguished representatives from from the academic, business, cultural, economic, or political communities.that country.  The three U.S. members of the Eminent Persons Group are Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, U.S. Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001; Mr. Muhtar Kent, chairman of the board and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company; and Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore from 1984-86, Ambassador to China from 1991-95, and Ambassador to Indonesia from 1996-99.  Ambassador Roy will represent the United States at the inaugural Manila meetingare unable to attend.

At the EPG gathering in Manila, the distinguished members will discuss strategies in areas such as improving development and cooperation in regional integration of ASEAN, and review key elements of the U.S.-ASEAN partnership, including opportunities to improve people-to-people ties, enhance trade and investment, deepen security cooperation between the United States and ASEAN, and improve coordination on natural disasters, as well as respond to the global challenges of climate change, energy and food security.

“We look forward to further deepening our current partnership and building a framework for continued growth in ASEAN-U.S. relations, to contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia and the broader East Asia region,” said Ambassador Stapleton Roy.

The May 20-21 meeting is the first of two EPG meetings that will take place in 2012, to be followed by meetings tentatively set to take place in September in Burma.