US Secretary of State cites importance of tie-up with ASEAN

MANILA — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday stressed the importance of its affiliation with the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

This, after noting that he has met with ASEAN officials three times in the last six months, with the third one during Sunday’s ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

“I think, it is indicative of the importance that the United States pays and places upon this relationship with ASEAN,” he said.

In his opening remarks for the Ministerial Meeting, Tillerson said that among the issues that have been discussed between him and the ASEAN officials involve “a number of security interest, of mutual interest, and a number of economic areas of interest.”

He also expects to have discussions on additional topics concerning “threats to all of us and our common response to that” as well as “opportunities that exist among all of those to strengthen relationships.”<;p>Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato’ Sri Anifah HJ Aman, during the same meeting, said US is a vital partner of the ASEAN “with solid relations encompassing wide areas of cooperation.”

He said the world’s largest economy has been ASEAN’s partner for a long time now, with the ASEAN-US relations now on its 40th year.

He is thankful that the US has been a big help in ensuring peace, stability, security and prosperity in the region, which is the seventh largest economy in the world as of 2016.

”ASEAN would like to see this relation enhance for our common benefit. Our cooperation in regional and international issues as well as traditional and non-traditional challenges continue to deepen to cover myriad of issues including terrorism, cyber security, climate change, migrants and maritime matters to name a few,” he said.

Aman added that ASEAN member-countries are all hopes for enhancing the partnership to another level.