At the event, participants spoke highly of the ASEAN - U.S. strategic partnership, considering this an important factor in ensuring peace, stability and development in the region. They also welcomed the establishment of the Mekong-U.S. 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 U.S. 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.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (center) speaks at the event.

ASEAN countries appreciated the coordination and assistance that the United States has provided for the region over the years, especially the timely and effective U.S. support to ASEAN through the ASEAN - U.S. Health Futures Initiative and the ASEAN - U.S. Network of Health Professionals. The U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S.’s concrete efforts to carry out the ASEAN - U.S. Health Futures initiative to enhance regional capacity in responding to emergency health situations.

He applauded the U.S. opening of a regional CDC office in Vietnam, while looking forward to signing the Agreement on ASEAN - USAID Regional Development Cooperation.

Minh welcomed the U.S.’s 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 militarization, 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, or South China Sea, (DOC) and soon finalize an effective and efficient Code of Conduct (COC) in accordance with international law, especially the 1982 U.N. 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, U.S. 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 U.S.

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 U.S. commitment to building and developing an ASEAN - U.S. 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 U.S. 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 - U.S. Strategic Partnership (2021-2025), with concrete actions to make cooperation practical.

Source: VNA