President Obama at Working Lunch with ASEAN leaders

September 24, 2010 | 3:24 | Public Domain

The President attends a working lunch with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations around the United Nations General Assembly Meeting in New York City.

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Read-out of President Obama's Working Luncheon with ASEAN Leaders

Today President Obama met with the Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  This was the first time such a meeting has been held in the United States, and follows the first ever such meeting last November in Singapore.  The Leaders issued a Joint Statement reviewing the continued deepening of relations between the United States and ASEAN and the growing strategic importance of the region and our relationship. Going forward, the U.S. – ASEAN partnership will build upon the Administration’s initiatives to deepen engagement in the region:

-- The United States acceded to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in July 2009.
-- At the invitation of the ASEAN states, the United States will participate in the East Asia Summit comprised of ASEAN and eight other prominent countries in the Asia Pacific region. 
-- Secretary Clinton will initiate U.S. participation in the East Asia Summit by attending its meeting in Hanoi on October 30, 2010.
-- President Obama will attend the East Asia Summit meeting in Jakarta in 2011.
-- The President will also visit Indonesia in November 2010.
-- Secretary Gates will attend the first ASEAN-hosted meeting of Asia Pacific region Defense Ministers in Hanoi in October 2010.
-- The President has nominated the first-ever resident U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN.

The prosperity of the United States and ASEAN is increasingly intertwined.  Today, ASEAN economies together comprise the United States’ fourth largest export market and fifth largest two-way trading partner.  The United States had $146 billion in total two-way goods trade with ASEAN countries in 2009, a year affected by the global downturn.  U.S. goods exports to the ASEAN countries in 2009 were $53.8 billion but grew by 40% in the first half of this year.  At current trends U.S. exports to ASEAN will reach $68 billion this year, supporting some 450,000 American jobs.  

The ASEAN Leaders briefed the President on their plan to create an ASEAN Economic Community with a single market and production base by 2015.  ASEAN currently has a total GDP of $1.5 trillion and a total population of about 550 million.  A unified ASEAN market will provide significant new opportunities for U.S. companies, and the President pledged additional assistance to help ASEAN achieve its ambitious integration goals.

The Leaders discussed global and regional issues, non-proliferation, counterterrorism, and climate change.  The President believes in the importance of democratic reform and protection of human rights and renews his call on Burma to embark on a process of national reconciliation by releasing all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi and by holding free and fair elections in November.  The President and the ASEAN leaders agreed on the importance of stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and highlighted their concerns about North Korea and Iran in the joint statement they issued. They also reaffirmed the importance of full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1718, 1874, and 1929 by the international community. The President and the leaders also agreed on the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes, freedom of navigation, regional stability, and respect for international law, including in the South China Sea. The President thanked Singapore and Malaysia for their support in national reconstruction in Afghanistan through the deployment of contingents that provide medical, engineering, and other support.

The Leaders also discussed ways to encourage and expand the development of social, cultural and educational ties between ASEAN and the United States.  Already, 44,000 university students from ASEAN countries study in the United States, the fourth largest source of university students studying here.  Nearly 3,400 American university students are studying in ASEAN countries. 

The Leaders agreed to meet again in 2011 at the time of the 6th East Asia Summit to take place in Indonesia.   

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