First-ever US-ASEAN Center to be Established in Washington

7 September, 2023 | Vishakha Ahuja


The creation of the first US-ASEAN Center, intended to facilitate formal ASEAN relations, has been announced by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Vice President Kamala Harris has revealed plans to establish the inaugural US-ASEAN Center in Washington, aimed at facilitating official ASEAN interactions.

Harris, who landed in Indonesia on Tuesday, participated in the ASEAN-US Summit and announced the elevation of the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, as per the statement issued by the White House in the United States.

At the ASEAN-US Summit, Harris said, “And today, I am pleased to announce that we will establish, through a public-private partnership, the first-ever US-ASEAN Center in Washington, DC. The centre 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,” she added.

During the Summit, she recognized and expressed appreciation for Timor-Leste’s participation in the gathering. The United States remains committed to assisting Timor-Leste as it progresses on its journey to become a member of ASEAN.

“I believe, as leaders, we must address the 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,” Harris added.

The Vice President of the United States emphasized the nation’s unwavering dedication to Southeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region. The United States takes great pride in its role as a significant player in the Pacific and holds a deep interest in the future of the Indo-Pacific, which is of profound importance to the American people.

She highlighted that the economic collaboration between the United States and ASEAN holds significant potential for the growth of both markets. Additionally, the United States’ commitments to defense and deterrence, as well as its security presence in the Indo-Pacific, play a crucial role in safeguarding our nation and maintaining stability in the region.

According to the statement, it is of utmost importance for the United States to advocate for a region that is characterized by openness, connectivity, prosperity, security, and resilience, as this aligns with its core national interests.

“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,” Harris said.

“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 US-ASEAN ties,” she added.

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