Some US senators on January 15 congratulated Vietnam on assuming the Chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an important multilateral organisation for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Delegates to the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials' Meeting Plus Working Group pose for a group photo.
The senators comprise Jim Risch and Cory Gardner from the Republican Party, Bob Menendez from the Democratic Party, who is also Chairman and a ranking member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, and Ed Markey, also from the Democratic Party, Chairman and a ranking member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.
In a press statement issued on the day, they also thanked Thailand for its effective stewardship in 2019.
“We look forward to a fruitful year of collaboration that leads to concrete progress on the most critical issues for ASEAN members and the entire Indo-Pacific region. The time is ripe to realise the ASEAN Economic Community, build capacity in the industries of the future, and posture ASEAN as a driver of regional economic growth. ASEAN members, including Vietnam, have demonstrated a willingness to stand up for freedom of navigation and international law in the East Sea,” they said.
They expressed hope that Vietnam will exercise this type of leadership and cooperating with its ASEAN partners on these issues in the coming year, especially as ASEAN and China negotiate a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).
ASEAN is an important partner to the US, the senators said, stressing their commitments to deepening this relationship, starting with the US-ASEAN Special Summit.
The senators said they look forward to supporting the many promising US-ASEAN initiatives underway, including those authorised by the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act. VNA