Thailand awaits U.S. bigger role in promoting ASEAN centrality

Thailand’s Prime Minister said last week he would like the see the United States plays a larger role in promoting the centrality of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during a virtual regional summit last week.

The U.S. has been a great friend and strategic partner of ASEAN, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. O’Brien also took part in the online summit. America can play an important role in the region going forward, which would be welcomed by all member countries, the Prime Minister emphasized.

In recent years, the U.S. has been promoting its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which is described as an “ironclad and enduring commitment” to the region. The initiative focuses on three areas — economics, governance and security.

In 2018, the U.S. outlined more than $110 million in support for digital, energy and infrastructure projects to help spread prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. American firms have invested over $940 billion in Indo-Pacific countries.

With its strategic location as a gateway between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, ASEAN should be central to the strategy, Prayut said. “ASEAN wants to see the U.S. play a constructive role in promoting ASEAN centrality and solidarity in creating a new strategic equilibrium in the Indo-Pacific region,” he further stated.

Government Spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri added that such a role would help create an environment of trust and confidence conducive to economic recovery and regional resilience in the long run.

Prime Minister Prayut also expressed appreciation for the Thailand-U.S. relationship, reiterating that Thailand is America’s oldest treaty partner in Asia.

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