The ASEAN - US Ministerial Meeting was held online on September 10 within the framework of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM 53).
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting (Photo: VNA)
At the event, participants spoke highly of the ASEAN-US strategic partnership, considering this an important factor in ensuring peace, stability and development in the region. They also welcomed the establishment of the Mekong-US Partnership.
The United States has become ASEAN's strategic partner for decades, becoming the bloc's third largest trade partner and fourth biggest investor. The US has actively participated in the forums established and led by ASEAN and supported ASEAN in effectively maintaining its central role and promoting dialogue and cooperation in the region, they noted.
ASEAN countries appreciated the coordination and assistance that the United States has provided for the region over the years, especially the timely and effective US support to ASEAN through the ASEAN-US Health Futures Initiative and the ASEAN-US Network of Health Professionals. The US has helped ASEAN improve preventive medicine capacity and disease control in the region, with the establishment of a regional office of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Vietnam. ASEAN countries asked the US to share its research results to facilitate the widespread access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Addressing the meeting, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh spoke highly of the US's concrete efforts to carry out the ASEAN-US Health Futures initiative to enhance regional capacity in responding to emergency health situations.
He applauded the US opening of a regional CDC office in Vietnam, while looking forward to signing the Agreement on ASEAN-USAID Regional Development Cooperation.
Minh welcomed the US’ provision of 5 million USD for the establishment of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Institute based at the Fulbright University Vietnam.
Regarding the regional and international situation, the Vietnamese Deputy PM reiterated ASEAN's principled position and suggested the parties strengthen mutual trust, uphold the rule of law, refrain from the acts that further complicate the situation and from militarisation, and settle disputes through peaceful measures.
The parties should continue to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and soon finalise an effective and efficient Code of Conduct (COC) in accordance with international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), contributing to maintaining peace, security and stability in the East Sea and in the region, he noted.
For his part, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, affirmed that ASEAN's successful Community building and central role in the region were in line with the interests of the US.
He spoke highly of the proactive role of Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2020, especially in coordinating regional efforts with partners to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also appreciated the ASEAN Perspectives Document on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and reaffirmed the US commitment to building and developing an ASEAN-US strategic partnership for peace and prosperity in the region on the basis of respect for each other's independence, sovereignty and cooperation for mutual benefit.
Regarding the East Sea, Pompeo said the US reiterates its stance and encourages ASEAN countries to unite and agree to maintain a common viewpoint on peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, and resolve disputes on the basis of respect for international law, the UNCLOS 1982, and the values stated in the AOIP.
Concluding the meeting, the ministers approved the Action Plan to implement the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership (2021-2025), with concrete actions to make cooperation practical.
US pledges to cooperate with ASEAN in fostering economic recovery
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has underscored the US commitment to partnering with ASEAN countries in economic recovery efforts.
Pompeo made the statement when attending the 10th East Asia Summit Virtual Foreign Ministers’ Meeting between 10 ASEAN countries and their partners of China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the US, and the annual ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held online within the framework of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings from September 9-12.
At the meetings, he lauded ASEAN countries for their transparent responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and praised Vietnam - ASEAN Chair - for its work convening ASEAN Foreign Ministers during these unprecedented times.
He reiterated US support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and its role in guiding US engagement with ASEAN, and further emphasised the bloc’s important role at the centre of the US vision for the Indo-Pacific.
Secretary Pompeo highlighted US support for principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, and respect for international law, which are shared across the US’s Indo-Pacific vision, ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo Pacific, and the visions of many other EAS member states.
Regarding tensions in the East Sea, Pompeo raised concerns over the China’s aggressive actions in the sea. He reiterated that the US, in line with the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Award, regards Beijing’s expansive maritime claims in the East Sea as unlawful.
He also called for a cessation of violence and a negotiated solution to escalating violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar, and for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programmes, as required by UN Security Council resolutions.
US highlights 25-year partnership with Vietnam
The US Department of State has extended congratulations and highlighted major achievements in the cooperation with Vietnam on the occasion of the ongoing 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-53) and related meetings hosted by Vietnam, and the 25th anniversary of bilateral ties.
The breadth and depth of cooperation between the two countries is stunning, it noted, adding that they are working together in areas as diverse as trade, development, education, health care, energy, and security.
“Today, our nations are trusted partners with a friendship grounded in mutual respect,” the US Department affirmed.
In terms of human capital development, the US and Vietnam have fostered the establishment of Fulbright University. It is the first independent, not-for-profit and US-affiliated university in Vietnam.
In the 2019 fiscal year, assistance of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to Vietnam totalled approximately 139 million USD in programme areas focused on economic governance, higher education, global health security, the welfare of persons with disabilities and the environment.
According to the US Department of State, nearly 30,000 Vietnamese students are studying in the US, the sixth leading country of origin for foreign students in the US, adding close to 1 billion USD to the country’s economy as well as priceless contributions to people-to-people ties.
Since 1989, the US has provided over 125 million USD in assistance directly and indirectly supporting over a million Vietnamese persons with disabilities.
Regarding security cooperation, the US and Vietnam share a strategic vision of peace, stability and rules-based order, the US Department continued.
The two sides cooperate on a wide range of areas, including peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), search and rescue, maritime security and military medicine.
Since 2009, the US has invested more than 400 million USD to build partner capacity with the total package approach.
The countries’ defence relationship seeks to promote a strong and peaceful security environment that promotes private investment, ensures energy security and results in beneficial economic prosperity.
As for trade ties, 25 years after establishing relations, bilateral trade has grown from almost zero to over 77 billion USD annually.
Key US goods exports to Vietnam include computers and electronics, cotton, aircraft and crude oil. Vietnam is the sixth largest country market for US goods and agricultural exports.
The Southeast Asian nation continued to be the world’s largest market for US cotton, with a record of 1.4 billion USD in sales during last year, accounting for 23 percent of all US cotton exports worldwide.
Regarding health and the environment, the US government is providing more than 13 million USD in health assistance and economic support funds to respond to COVID-19. Apart from supporting private-sector recovery, these funds will help the Government of Vietnam prepare laboratory systems, support technical experts for preparedness and response, conduct community education and engagement, prevent infections in health care settings, and conduct public health screening at points of entry.
“When the US Government launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, Vietnam was the first country in Asia to receive support,” the US department noted.
Since then, more than 140,000 people in Vietnam are receiving life-saving antiretroviral drugs among an estimated 230,000 people living with HIV nationwide.
In addition, the US Department of State said that the US remains committed to honestly addressing humanitarian and legacy of war challenges.
The country has provided over 400 million USD to date to clean up dioxin, remove unexploded ordnance and support persons with disabilities.
The US is also accounting for Missing in Action and war dead for building trust by promoting veterans exchanges, said the department.
Deputy PM stresses importance of women in promoting sustainable peace
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh stressed the indispensable role of women in solving conflicts and promoting sustainable peace when chairing the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Strengthening Women’s Role for Sustainable Peace and Security on September 10.
The online event was held within the framework of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings.
Minh reaffirmed support for the ASEAN Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, while recalling the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security which has served as a foundation for the international community to boost women’s engagement in all aspects of peace, prevent conflicts and protect women’s rights.
He said that despite wide consciousness about the importance role of women in the peace process, women have yet to be extensively present in preventing and mediating conflicts.
At the dialogue, participants discussed how to intensify the role and joint actions of ASEAN women so as to strengthen substantive and sustainable peace, security and prosperity in the region.
They affirmed the importance as well as role of women in not only political-security but also socio-economic fields.
Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations, suggested ASEAN exert more efforts to mainstream gender issue in the ASEAN Community’s all three pillars, and prioritise gender equality and the implementation of the WPS agenda in the post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision.
It is also important to include peace-building strategies in ASEAN in plans to realise the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, she said, adding that Vietnam also sent female peacekeepers to Africa to help locals in agricultural techniques and sew face masks to prevent COVID-19.
Countries in the region affirmed to strengthen activities of the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry (AWPR) and boost the inclusion of the WPS agenda in programmes and policies in all pillars of the ASEAN Community.
They also pledged to deepen cooperation between ASEAN and partners through frameworks and mechanisms such as ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit, and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus. VNA