The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke yesterday with foreign ministers of ASEAN nations and the ASEAN Secretary General during the U.S.-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The Secretary reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to ASEAN centrality and support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific as part of the U.S. vision for a free and open region. The Secretary and ASEAN foreign ministers discussed pressing regional and international challenges, including combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, acting boldly against the climate crisis, strengthening human capital development, and the urgency of action on Burma.
Secretary Blinken stressed the U.S. commitment to leading the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes providing more than 500 million safe and effective vaccine doses to Gavi for distribution by COVAX to 92 low- and middle-income countries around the world and to the African Union in addition to a $2 billion contribution to Gavi, the global vaccine initiative, in support of COVAX, making the United States the single largest contributor to the international response to COVID-19. He noted that, to date, the United States has donated more than 23 million vaccine doses and nearly $160 million in assistance to ASEAN member states to combat COVID-19. He announced that the United States plans to provide $500,000 to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to support the purchase of life-saving vaccines and would continue supporting the ASEAN Secretariat to develop an ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination System.
The Secretary also emphasized the importance of taking bold action in the 2020s to address the climate crisis and driving a green recovery, highlighting U.S. support to the region to build back better from the economic damage wrought by the pandemic. He recalled U.S. assistance to businesses in ASEAN, including micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, to restart operations and ensure readiness for future pandemics. The Secretary highlighted U.S. support for reliable and sustainable energy systems in ASEAN, and the work of the U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership in addressing urbanization challenges in transport, water, energy, and health.
The Secretary underscored the importance of human capital development in ASEAN and recalled the ongoing U.S. support for the next generation of ASEAN leaders, professionals and innovators as part of the Billion Futures Scholars Program, the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam, and the YSEALI Seeds for the Future program.
He also expressed grave concerns about the military coup in Burma and called on ASEAN to take joint action to urge the military to end the violence, release all those unjustly detained, and restore Burma’s path to democracy.