WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met on Thursday with foreign ministers of ASEAN nations virtually and in-person in New York City on the margins of the UN General Assembly. Secretary Blinken thanked ASEAN countries for their support of the unprecedented global effort to evacuate U.S. citizens and personnel of other nations from Afghanistan.
He also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to ASEAN centrality and U.S. support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Secretary Blinken and ASEAN foreign ministers discussed pressing regional and international challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, the urgent need to press the military to end the violence in Burma and adhere to ASEAN’s five-point consensus, and the need to reinforce a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Secretary Blinken highlighted U.S. efforts to lead the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and build a sustainable recovery that supports both economic growth and climate goals. As part of these efforts, he noted the United States has provided ASEAN members with more than $197 million in emergency COVID-19 assistance and shared more than 31 million vaccine doses, including as part of making 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 doses available to Gavi for distribution by COVAX.
The Secretary reaffirmed U.S. support for the Mekong-U.S. Partnership and congratulated ASEAN for its collaboration with the Mekong River Commission to host the first ASEAN-MRC Water Security Dialogue.