Saturday, October 2, 2010

Address at the second ASEAN-US LEADERS’ MEETING

Washington, 24th September 2010

Your Excellency Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

Your Majesty the Sultan, Excellencies ASEAN Leaders,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express our profound gratitude to the President of the United States of America, His Excellency Barack Obama, for the hospitality and the excellent arrangements made for the second “ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting”.

This summit has demonstrated that both ASEAN and the U.S. are committed to further strengthening and enhancing interactions in political, security, economic, social and cultural areas by displaying partnership and strengthening cooperation aimed at ensuring stability and development in Southeast Asia. In this regard, I would like to reiterate my support for the President Obama’s initiative to establish an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) in order to explore ways and means to deepen and widen the existing cooperation between ASEAN and the US as well as to recommend measures for deepening ASEAN-US relations in the future.

As we all know, the geo-political and economic landscape has changed, as Asia come out of the Global Financial Crisis. Indeed, with the increased importance of East Asia economy, all of us remain to recognize the great pre-requisite role of the US in ensuring world stability and development. In this spirit, Cambodia welcomes the US’s participation in the East Asia Summit, a new mechanism of the regional architecture which ASEAN has been continuing its centrality. With the US’s participation in this framework, Cambodia is of the view that we should add political and security cooperation as another area to the five priority areas which have been implemented namely, energy, education, finance, combating Avian-Influenza and natural disaster mitigation. At the same time, Cambodia urges the US to support ASEAN Chair’s regular participation in the G-20 as it emerges as the key global forum to tackle issues and address the future development of the world’s economic and financial system.

On the trade front, the U.S. continues to be the key export market and great source of investment for the ASEAN countries. In this regard, Cambodia welcomes the new initiatives aimed at implementing the Joint Vision Statement on the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership adopted in 2005, and notable efforts to promote cooperation in trade facilitation, trade finance and standards under the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA). At the same time, I would like to urge for the expedition of the new Action Plan for the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership (2010-2015) in order to ensure its step-by-step implementation in accordance with the set timeframe.

ASEAN's commitment to free trade and building the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has helped reinforce an open multilateral trading system. In addition, stronger commitments to attract US investment at both national and regional levels are required to boost overall U.S.-ASEAN economic activity. Thus, ASEAN welcomes increasing US role in building the AEC, especially we welcomes financial contribution as well as technical assistance from the US in order to support the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which is the foundation for narrowing development gaps within ASEAN and stepping stone toward East Asian integration in the longer term.

Cambodia welcomes a broader and deeper ASEAN-U.S. cooperation to promote educational exchanges, including in science and technology and in people-to-people interactions. The US can play an important role in developing human resources to support ASEAN community building process by focusing especially on newer members of ASEAN. In this regard, Cambodia highly appreciates the capacity building component of the trade facilitation arrangement.

The recent Second U.S.-Lower Mekong meeting was a great success. I would like to thank the US for the financial support for this cooperation. Our Mekong countries look forward to promote cooperation in the areas of environment, health, education and infrastructure development and discuss specific activities for cooperation.

On the security front, the ASEAN region is wrestling with fighting terrorism and here too the United States is a major player. The US presence has been a determining reason for the peace and stability in Asia. It has helped ensure a booming and dynamic Southeast Asia. Cambodia has greatly benefited from capacity training in counter-terrorism that the United States and some regional countries that have provided us during the past years. The ASEAN Regional Forum has now evolved into the region's premier security forum. At the same time, Cambodia has embarked on the training of peace-keeping forces, making humble contribution to regional and world peace.

Cambodia is committed to the regime of nuclear non-proliferation and welcomes efforts exerted to re-launch the six party talks. Peace and stability on the Korean peninsula are critical for the prosperity of East Asia.

After all, ASEAN and the US must find new ways and a new vision for a shared future. Both sides will gain from engagement. The agenda for this could cover a broad range of issues, from poverty reduction, economy, trade and investment, energy, environment protection and climate change management to nuclear disarmament, combating terrorism, and confidence-building measures.

Once again, I am convinced that our today’s meeting will lay out some new important foundations for ensuring a success of our win-win cooperation, which is the top interest of our countries and peoples.

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