Pompeo praises ASEAN Indo-Pacific outlook

The U.S. supports ASEAN’s agenda for a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok last week, as the U.S. and ASEAN agreed to draft a new plan of action for their strategic partnership.

“Our engagement in this region has not been and will never be a zero-sum game exercise. Our interest simply converges with yours for mutual benefits,” Pompeo said during a joint press conference with Don Pramudwinai, Thailand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The two diplomats spoke after the conclusion of the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting co-chaired by the U.S. and Lao PDR. The U.S. and ASEAN have been dialogue partners since 1977, and officially ratified a Strategic Partnership in 2015.

Pompeo said that U.S. engagement with ASEAN is guided by partnership, respect for sovereignty, and a shared commitment to the fundamental rule of law, human rights and sustainable economic growth.

“The great theme of our engagement is this: Where America goes, we seek partnership, not domination,” Pompeo said. “The United States of America does not invest for political influence, but rather practices partnership economics.”

To mark the way forward, the U.S. and ASEAN agreed to begin drafting a new Plan of Action to guide the Strategic Partnership from 2020 through 2025.

ASEAN countries noted America’s contribution to regional security, particularly in combatting threats from terrorism, human trafficking, and transnational crime, and welcomed the ASEAN-U.S. Cyber Policy Dialogue.

Pompeo praised ASEAN’s commitment to sovereignty, transparency, good governance and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.

Senior State Department officials also spoke highly of the Thai-U.S. alliance. “Our relationship with the Kingdom of Thailand remains one of our most important in the Indo-Pacific,” a senior official said. “Our broad cooperation benefits both our countries, the region, and beyond.”

Pompeo added that the U.S. continues to support Thailand’s role as a regional leader, including its chairmanship of ASEAN this year.

Photo courtesy of ASEAN2019TH