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US Helps ASEAN Raise Pandemic Response Capacity

The United States has earmarked US$96 million to help Southeast Asian countries improve their pandemic response capacity, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on July 14.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the Special ASEAN - US Foreign Ministerial Meeting held virtually on July 14. Photo: Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Speaking at the Special ASEAN - US Foreign Ministerial Meeting held virtually on July 14, Blinken emphasised the Biden administration’s commitment to multilateralism.

The US always attaches importance to its relations with ASEAN, supports the bloc’s centrality, and will pay attention to fostering a dynamic and effective strategic partnership with ASEAN on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefits, he was cited by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) as saying.

He noted that the US will keep taking the lead in stepping up global efforts against Covid-19.

The country has donated US$2 billion of the committed US$4 billion, and pledged to supply 500 million vaccine doses for the COVAX Facility. It is working to support countries around the world, including ASEAN nations, with 80 million doses.

Blinken also proposed several orientations for the ASEAN - US cooperation in such fields as energy, transport, women empowerment, environment, and climate change response on the basis of even and sustainable recovery efforts across the region.

Boosting consultation, dialogue, cooperation

The Special ASEAN - US Foreign Ministerial Meeting was held virtually on July 14. Photo: Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

During the meeting, both ASEAN and the US pledged to enhance the bilateral partnership, especially amid the serious challenges negatively affecting people’s life, development, security, and stability of countries in the region.

ASEAN countries reiterated their message to the new administration of the US, which is making long-term commitments to the region, upholding multilateralism and international law, making efforts to control disease outbreaks, promoting recovery, and responding to climate change.

They welcomed the US’ continued support for the bloc’s centrality in maintaining dialogue; intensification of cooperation; and joining efforts to build an open, inclusive, and law-based regional architecture and to effectively deal with challenges.

Both sides shared the view that there are many latent and complex challenges in the region and the world, agreeing to boost consultation, dialogue, and cooperation, particularly at the forums chaired and led by ASEAN, so as to help maintain regional peace, stability, and security.

Regarding the South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea) issue, the two sides reaffirmed their respective stances and stressed the importance of peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the waters.

They also highlighted their expectation for the early finalisation of an efficient and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sa (COC) that matches international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and respects and appropriately mentions the rights and legitimate interests of the relevant parties.

Reviewing the Myanmar situation, the US highly valued ASEAN’s recent steps to assist Myanmar to return to normal. It also voiced support for the bloc to successfully implement the “Five-Point Consensus” reached at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in April 2021.

ASEAN-US strategic partnership important to regional peace

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son speaks a the meeting. Photo: Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In his remarks, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son underlined the importance of the ASEAN - US strategic partnership to the cooperation, development, peace, and stability in the region.

He applauded the role and contributions of the US to global Covid-19 response efforts, its vaccine provision for countries in the region, including Vietnam, as well as its support for the temporary waiver of vaccine patents within the WTO framework.

ASEAN countries, including Vietnam, are ready to create optimal conditions for US enterprises to expand investment and business in their markets amid a pandemic-triggered shift in trade and investment flows, Son said.

The minister expressed his hope that the US will actively assist ASEAN to narrow the development gap, promote development in sub-regions, and connect the Mekong - US ties with the common development of ASEAN.

As the region is facing many major and complex challenges, countries need to uphold their sense of responsibility, maintain dialogue, and reinforce cooperation to concurrently guarantee peace and stability and secure successful recovery, he went on.

The minister called on the US to keep close coordination with the bloc at the forums established and led by ASEAN, thereby creating a favourable environment for the formation of a rules-based regional architecture./.

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Rosy Huong

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