Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes’ Meeting with ASEAN Officials
Today, Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes welcomed to the White House senior officials from all ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a warm and productive discussion on the U.S.-ASEAN relationship. Mr. Rhodes underscored President Obama’s strong personal commitment to the U.S.-ASEAN relationship and to his strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region, and noted that the President looks forward to attending the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit later this year in Malaysia. Mr. Rhodes discussed the broad agenda for cooperation between the United States and ASEAN on many political, security, economic, and people-to-people issues. In particular, Mr. Rhodes discussed maritime security and ongoing concerns regarding China’s extensive land reclamation in the South China Sea, and he expressed continued U.S. support for ASEAN’s efforts to conclude a Code of Conduct with China, and for a resolution of differences consistent with international law. Noting that Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia already host substantial migrant communities, Mr. Rhodes expressed our concerns over the tragic circumstances faced by Rohingya and other migrants at sea, and urged ASEAN countries to work expeditiously to save lives while also pursuing the broader efforts that are necessary to improve conditions in Rakhine state and address underlying challenges that contribute to the migration.