President Obama Welcomes ASEAN Leaders to California for #USASEAN2016

On February 15, President Barack Obama welcomed leaders from all 10 ASEAN nations to Sunnylands at Rancho Mirage, California for the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Summit. In the first-ever, U.S.-hosted meeting with these leaders, President Obama delivered remarks in which he reflected on his “personal commitment, and the national commitment of the United States, to a strong and enduring partnership with your 10 nations individually and to Southeast Asia as one region, as one community -- ASEAN.”

The U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Summit marks the seventh meeting between President Obama and these ASEAN leaders – more than any previous U.S. President. This sustained engagement has delivered concrete results and generated momentum that the United States intends to strengthen at this special Summit. In his opening statement, President Obama outlined several areas of progress on which the United States hopes to build with our ASEAN partners:

Economic Progress in the Region: President Obama said, “Since I took office, we’ve boosted trade between the United States and ASEAN by 55 percent. The region is now our fourth largest goods trading partner, including U.S. exports that support more than 500,000 American jobs. U.S companies have been the largest source of foreign investment in ASEAN-- one of the many reasons that the region’s GDP has surged in recent years, lifting people from poverty into the middle class.” 

President Obama applauded steps the ASEAN leaders have taken toward integrating their economies and underscored the two-day Summit as a platform to build on this progress and do more to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, so that growth and development is sustainable and inclusive and benefits all people.

Increasing Security Cooperation: President Obama noted, In recent years, the United States has increased our maritime security assistance to our allies and partners in the region, improving our mutual capabilities to protect lawful commerce and to respond to humanitarian crisis.”

During the U.S.-ASEAN Leader Summit, the United States hopes to advance our shared vision of a regional order where international rules and norms, including freedom of navigation, are upheld and where disputes are resolved through peaceful, legal means.

Supporting the Aspirations and Dignity of our Citizens: In his remarks, President Obama discussed the historic election in Myanmar and said the transition now underway offers hope for a nation that is inclusive, united, peaceful, and democratic. President Obama also highlighted the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and said that “in joining TPP, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have committed to high labor and environmental standards.”

President Obama praised the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, which is helping to empower young men and women who are shaping the region. “Their idealism, their courage, their willingness to work for the future that they believe in should all give us hope. As leaders, we have to answer their aspirations. And here at the summit, we can reaffirm that strong, prosperous and inclusive societies require good governance, rule of law, accountable institutions, vibrant civil societies, and upholding human rights.”

Meeting Transnational Challenges Together: President Obama also discussed transnational challenges, such as countering violent extremism and addressing climate change and its impacts, which the United States and ASEAN nations can continue to strengthen cooperation. As the President said, these are challenges that “no one nation can meet alone.”

In his conclusion, the President said, “Economic growth that is inclusive, creating opportunity for all; mutual security and the peaceful resolution of disputes; human dignity, including respect for human rights and development that is sustainable -- that is our vision.”

On Tuesday, February 16, President Obama will hold a press conference at the conclusion of the 2016 U.S.-ASEAN Summit. Watch his remarks on WhiteHouse.gov/live at approximately 4:35 PM EST.

For more information:

President Barack Obama, center, speaks at the plenary session meeting of ASEAN, the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, on February 15, 2016.
Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 16, 2016

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