United States (US) President Joe Biden is set to host ASEAN leaders for a special summit in Washington on March 28- 29, the White House announced on Monday.
The meeting of the 10-member regional bloc allows the US to demonstrate commitment to the group, and mark 45 years of US-Asean relations.
“It is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration to serve as a strong, reliable partner and to strengthen an empowered and unified Asean to address the challenges of our time,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Biden joined the virtual 9th ASEAN-US Summit – held as part of the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits hosted by Brunei Darussalam – last October. It was his first time since assuming presidency, and marked the first time in four years Washington engaged with a bloc at the top level.
Biden said the US is committed to the centrality of ASEAN in the region, and that bloc members can expect him to make an appearance in the region in the future.
He underscored the US’ enduring commitment to the region and pledged to deepen cooperation to take on the challenges of our time, which includes working with their allies and partners to defend against threats to the international rules-based order and to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“The relationship between the US and ASEAN is vital, vital for the future of all one billion of our people,” Biden said, adding that, “Our partnership is essential to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, which has been the foundation of our shared security and prosperity for many decades.”
Biden pointed out that Brunei Darussalam’s leadership remains vital in seeing ASEAN through a very challenging year. He stressed ASEAN’s importance to the US, and looks forward to deepening the longstanding cooperation in pursuing new avenue, new dialogues, investing and driving inclusive prosperity in what he calls a “critical region”.
The president announced intent to provide up to USD102 million in new initiatives to expand the US-ASEAN strategic partnership to support the region’s recovery from COVID-19, address the climate crisis, promote economic growth and develop human capital.
Additionally, the president underlined the importance of the strategic partnership between the US and ASEAN, highlighting new efforts to expand high-level US-ASEAN cooperation in health, climate, energy, transportation, and gender empowerment.