THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. And congratulations on a successful year as the Chair of ASEAN.
It is my honor to be here in Indonesia and to be back in Southeast Asia. This is my third trip to Southeast Asia since taking office as vice president of the United States and my fourth to the Indo-Pacific. And in May of 2023, it was my pla- — pleasure to chair several sessions with ASEAN leaders at the historic U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit in Washington, D.C. It is good to see so many of you again.
The United States has an enduring commitment to Southeast Asia and, more broadly, to the Indo-Pacific. We are a proud Pacific power, and the American people have a profound stake in the future of the Indo-Pacific.
We share historic bonds and common values with many of the people and nations here. And our alliances and partnerships support the security and prosperity of the United States and ASEAN.
For example, Mr. President, as you mentioned, the flow of commerce between Southeast Asia and the United States supports more than 600,000 American jobs, and U.S.-ASEAN economic cooperation represents a huge opportunity for growth for both of our markets. And the defense and deterrence commitments of the United States and our security presence in the Indo-Pacific help protect our homeland and ensure regional stability.
It is therefore in our vital interest to promote a region that is open, interconnected, prosperous, secure, and resilient.
Colleagues, ASEAN is at the center of America’s commitments to the Indo-Pacific. As the United States Indo-Pacific Strategy makes clear, we are committed to ASEAN centrality.
And I’m pleased that our collective vision for the Indo-Pacific is in strong alignment. We have a shared commitment to international rules and norms and to our partnership on pressing national and regional issues, such as the crisis in Myanmar. The United States will continue to press the regime to end the horrific violence, to release all those unjustly detained, and to re-establish Myanmar’s path to inclusive democracy, and we will continue to support ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus.
More broadly, in a demonstration of the enduring and important relationship between the United States and Southeast Asia, since President Biden and I took office, we have expanded U.S.-ASEAN ties.To that end, we have upgraded the relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We invested in infrastructure and the digital economy, we launched major initiatives to address the climate crisis and health security, and we expanded cultural and educational exchange programs.
And today, I am pleased to announce that we will establish, through a public-private partnership, the first-ever U.S.-ASEAN Center in Washington, D.C. The center will facilitate official ASEAN engagements and support further exchange between our people, businesses, and academic institutions.
To further strengthen our ties, I’m also pleased that our ambassador to ASEAN, Yohannes Abraham, is here in Jakarta. He has been a close advisor to President Biden and to me since we took office, and I know his leadership will help make progress on the many issues we will discuss today.
Additionally, I will acknowledge and welcome the presence of Timor-Leste in this meeting. The United States will continue to support Timor-Leste in its path towards ASEAN membership.
In conclusion, I believe, as leaders, we must address global challenges of today while also investing in a long-term vision. We must look 10, 20, 30 years out and measure our current steps against that vision.
The United States and the nations of Southeast Asia share many long-term interests and priorities, as well as a long-term vision.
So, with that in mind, I look forward to our discussion today, and I thank you.