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ASEAN, US look to lift ties to new height, leaders announce at summit

Update: September, 27/2010 - 10:02
President Barack Obama (fifth from left) and ASEAN leaders pose for a photograph at the second ASEAN-US Leaders Summit in New York. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang

President Barack Obama (fifth from left) and ASEAN leaders pose for a photograph at the second ASEAN-US Leaders Summit in New York. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang

NEW YORK — Southeast Asian and US leaders issued a joint statement aimed to bring their relations to a new height during talks at the second ASEAN-US Leaders' Summit on Saturday.

They also welcomed a rebound of trade between the two sides, said the statement, citing a 28-per cent increase in two-way ASEAN – US trade in goods in the first six months of this year.

The 25-point statement covers a wide range of issues, including climate change, economy, and non-proliferation.

At the summit, co-chaired by the Vietnamese President and ASEAN Chairman this year, Nguyen Minh Triet, and his US counterpart Barack Obama in New York, the leaders also reached a consensus on carrying out an action plan concerning the joint vision statement on the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership for the current period and the 2011-15 period.

They emphasised the necessity to closely co-ordinate activities to achieve the common targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and promote co-operation in trade and investment; effective energy use; food and agriculture security; people, cultural and educational exchanges; science and technology development; disaster management; health care; preserving the environment and bio-diversity; and fighting climate change, terrorism and transnational crimes.

President Triet proposed ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the US to further promote their co-operative relations in these fields and informed the participants about the ASEAN Community's development and its external relations with the US.

He said the US should assist ASEAN in raising its capability to cope with global challenges, especially in the Mekong sub-region, through the annual US-Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting.

The US wanted to enhance its comprehensive relations with ASEAN, confirmed President Obama, voicing his nation's support for ASEAN's central role in the region and regional co-operation forums, including the East Asia Summit (EAS).

The US leader committed to assisting ASEAN in building up the community, increasing ASEAN ties, bridging the development gap and fulfilling MDGs.

He commended ASEAN on its role and contributions made at multilateral forums, including the G20 process.

ASEAN leaders welcomed the US policy of accelerating the constructive co-operation with the region, the membership of the US and Russia at the EAS as of 2011 and the attendance of the US Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister at the fifth EAS in Ha Noi in October 2010.

They spoke highly of the US's willingness to hold talks with ASEAN concerning the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty's protocol and welcomed the US support for activities of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights and the ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children.

At the summit, ASEAN and US leaders reviewed the progress made in ASEAN-US relations since the first conference took place in Singapore in November 2009 and put forward measures and orientations to promote the enhanced partnership.

The leaders highlighted the importance of both sides' continued dialogues and agreed to organise the third ASEAN-US Leaders' Summit in 2011 on the sidelines of the sixth EAS in Indonesia.

They also agreed to establish an ASEAN-US group to study and recommend measures to enhance bilateral ties.

More US investment

Later on Saturday, President Triet said he expected US businesses to continue to invest in ASEAN.

Addressing a working session between ASEAN leaders and the US-ASEAN Business Council, the president spoke highly of the US groups' intention to pour investments into ASEAN.

During the upcoming summit in Ha Noi in October, ASEAN members would discuss ways to strengthen the ties for work on large-scale projects to establish the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. This move would offer more chances for US investors to boost their investment in a large and promising market, he said.

In his speech, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell reiterated the US policy of expanding its ties with ASEAN.

The chairman of the US-ASEAN Business Council Alexander Feldman agreed that during these hard economic times, the US needed to explore new avenues to expand its market and generate employment.

Bilateral trade between ASEAN and the US has reached more than US$200 billion a year.

ASEAN is now the US 's fifth largest trade partner and fourth largest export market. — VNS

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