SECRETARY KERRY: Well, everybody, my apologies for being delayed, and I thank everybody for their patience and look forward to a very interesting and comprehensive discussion this evening. I want to begin by thanking Foreign Minister Lwin and the Government of Myanmar, which has done a very solid job of leading ASEAN as chair this year. And I also want to recognize our new Ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian, who was confirmed just in time to be here today. (Laughter and applause.) We’re delighted to have Nina on board, and I know all of you will really enjoy working with her.
The United States remains deeply committed to engaging the Asia Pacific region. I think you’ve heard us talking about our rebalanced Asia and the deep involvement that we have there, working for the trade agreement, working with respect to security issues and global climate change – particularly important. I had occasion to be in the Philippines and see the impact directly of Typhoon Haiyan. And so we have a lot of work to do, and we are deeply committed. President Obama has reinforced again and again his intention to keep the United States front and center in the region. I’ve already traveled there – I think it’s five or six times in a year and a half. The President’s been there several times. We’re looking forward to being back there shortly for the meetings in October, November, and there’s obviously a lot to continue to work on.
ASEAN and its centrality is essential to upholding the rules-based system throughout the Asia Pacific, and it is the best way to ensure that all countries big and small have a voice as we work together to address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. That’s why the United States continues to invest so much in the relationship. It’s why we’re deepening our ties among our people-to-people programs, like President Obama’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and the U.S.-ASEAN Fulbright Program. And it’s why we fully support the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
President Obama and I are very much looking forward to being at the East Asia Summit, but in the meantime we’re happy to discuss a few of the challenges that we’ve partnered on, including our maritime security and the global threat of climate change. I hope we can discuss this evening how best to work on some of the other global issues that we also face today – for example, the growing numbers of foreign fighters from all over the world who have chosen to go to ISIL and join in their activities and present a danger and risk to all of us. We also obviously face the challenge of Ebola in West Africa, and we need everybody to be involved in the effort to contain it.
So I thank you all for carving out time in what has been an extraordinarily busy week here in New York. We’ve got some very important conversations to have, but before we turn to that, I want to recognize Foreign Minister Lwin for his opening comments.
FOREIGN MINISTER LWIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Excellencies, at the outset let me express my sincere thanks to Secretary Kerry and the Government of the United States of America for hosting this important meeting, taking the opportunity of all our ASEAN colleagues’ presence here in New York as we are attending the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations.
I am delighted to see the progress in ASEAN-U.S. dialogue relations that encompasses all three pillars of the ASEAN community. We appreciate U.S. role in maintaining peace and security in the region, as well as providing technical assistance for socio-economic and socio-cultural development in ASEAN member-states.
We are confident that ASEAN and the U.S. can further strengthen cooperation through the effective implementation of the Plan of Action to implement the Joint Vision Statement of ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership.
ASEAN-U.S. Economic Ministers Meeting was held on 28 August overseeing the progress of ASEAN-U.S. economic cooperation and finding ways to move forward on the outstanding aspects of E3 Initiative, particularly on nonbinding shared principles of ASEAN-U.S. investment. I hope we could be able to see progress on those matters during the upcoming second ASEAN-U.S. Summit in November.
The ASEAN-U.S. Business Summit was successfully convened in Naypyidaw on 28 August, providing opportunities for our business people to interact and build networks. I look forward to seeing increased business activities between ASEAN and the United States. Socio-culture and people-to-people ties are also the areas that we should focus to promote better understanding between the peoples of ASEAN and U.S.
The U.S. supports on the CityLinks Pilot Partnership, which provide capacity building and technical (inaudible) programs on climate change adaptation among cities, is timely and effective as we urgently need to tackle the negative effects of climate change. In this respect, we’ll work with the U.S. for the ASEAN-U.S. joint climate change statement to be issued at the second ASEAN-U.S. Summit.
I look forward to have a fruitful discussion today to further address ASEAN-U.S. engagement in a more comprehensive way. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Much appreciated.