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The following Joint Press Statement was issued at the conclusion of the Sixteenth meeting of the US-ASEAN Dialogue, held today in Washington, D.C.
1. The Sixteenth US-ASEAN Dialogue was held on 29 November, 2001 in Washington D.C. Delegates form the governments and private sectors of the US and the ten ASEAN Member Countries, and the ASEAN Secretariat attended the meeting.
2. In his welcoming remarks, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage underscored the importance of ASEAN in maintaining peace and security in the Asia Pacific region. He emphasized the importance of ASEAN in US foreign policy and underscored the US commitment to strengthening the ASEAN-US partnership.
3. In his opening remarks, Vietnamese Deputy Minister Le Cong Phung expressed ASEAN's condolences to the US Government and victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He expressed gratitude for the importance the US attached to ASEAN-US relations and ASEAN's commitment to strengthen the dialogue relationship. US Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly, in his opening remarks, added that the quarter-century US-ASEAN dialogue shared one more bond -- counter-terrorism.
4. On international terrorism, the US expressed deep appreciation for the strong stance taken by ASEAN against terrorism, and for the offer by several ASEAN countries to assist in peacekeeping and reconstruction in Afghanistan. The meeting discussed ways in which the international community could work together, including through the United Nations, to overcome the formidable challenges posed by terrorism. The US welcomed ASEAN's resolve at preventing, suppressing and eradicating terrorism as expressed in the 2001 ASEAN Summit Declaration on Joint Action to Counter Terrorism.
5. On the current situation in Afghanistan, the US emphasized that the military operation was against terrorism and not against Islam, and its main targets were the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and its Taliban supporters. The US also explained that the goals of the international counterterrorism coalition were to help Afghanistan build a broad-based government representative of all the people of Afghanistan and to ensure that Afghanistan would never again be used as a base for terrorism. The Meeting shared the view that international efforts to rebuild Afghanistan should include economic recovery, educational reforms and strengthening the role of women in all sectors of society.
6. The US briefed the Meeting on its current diplomatic initiatives to end violence and restart negations in the Middle East.
7. The Meeting concurred that illicit narcotics are a threat to all nations and that international cooperation was essential to an effective war against drugs. ASEAN and the US agreed to intensify cooperation in combating illicit drugs, both supply-reduction and demand-reduction, particularly in the context of ASEAN's determination to make the region free from drugs by 2015 and of the ASEAN China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs (ACCORD) work program. The Meeting also agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fight against trafficking in human beings and illegal migration. The Meeting discussed issues relating to money laundering, economic crimes and counterfeit medicine.
8. On HIV/AIDS, the Meeting recognized the US contribution to the Global Fund for AIDS and other infectious diseases, and the ASEAN Work Program on HIV/AIDS 2002-2005 aimed at curbing the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. The Meeting noted the importance of enabling AIDS sufferers to have access to effective and affordable drugs.
9. On environment and sustainable development, the Meeting reaffirmed the commitment of ASEAN and the US to the protection of the environment while pursuing economic development. The Meeting agreed to strengthen US-ASEAN cooperation in environmental matters, including the fight against haze pollution in Southeast Asia and in making the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 a success.
10. The Meeting reviewed the impact of the global economic downturn on ASEAN in terms of slower exports, lower wages and lower commodity prices but was encouraged by the prospects of a higher growth rate of the US economy by the middle of 2002, and the reduced vulnerability of ASEAN countries to volatile financial flows.
11. On trade and investment issues, the Meeting noted the progress made in the economic integration of ASEAN, particularly through the ASEAN Free Trade Area, the ASEAN Investment Area and the ASEAN Industrial Cooperation Scheme. ASEAN urged the US to extend Normal Trading Relations to Lao PDR so that all ASEAN member countries could benefit from ASEAN-US trade relations.
12. The Meeting discussed the results of the recent WTO ministerial meeting and agreed to cooperate in the implementation of the decisions of the ministerial meeting. The Meeting also exchanged views on the successful outcome of the recent APEC Leaders meeting in Shanghai and agreed to strengthen cooperation in implementing the decisions of the meeting.
13. The Meeting agreed that the interest of both the US and ASEAN could be served by deeper and broader cooperation in areas such as combating terrorism, drug trafficking and other transnational crime, protecting the environment, promoting information technology cooperation, and fostering regional economic integration in Southeast Asia. The Meeting concurred that ASEAN's efforts to deepen its economic integration, bridge the development gap, strengthen its global competitiveness, ensure its readiness for the information age, and integrate its newer members into the ASEAN process could serve as a sound basis for closer and more active cooperation between the US and ASEAN.
14. The Meeting discussed ways and means to further enhance the dialogue relations. In particular, ASEAN stressed the importance of according top priority to cooperation in trade, investment and finance, revitalizing development cooperation with specific projects and programs, intensifying joint efforts in countering terrorism and transnational crime, and enhancing coordination in regional arrangements such as the ARF and APEC. Specific measures were suggested to strengthen the dialogue process, including the formulation of a work program, establishment of a mechanism to monitor and assess progress of cooperation, greater interaction with the assistance of the ASEAN Washington Committee and the US-ASEAN Business Council, and organization of seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.
15. A working lunch was held with representatives of the ASEAN and US private sectors. The US-ASEAN Business Council cited the progress that the ASEAN countries had made in the efforts towards regional economic integration. The Council and its members emphasized that economic integration would boost economic growth in the region and make ASEAN a more attractive and viable destination for foreign direct investments. ASEAN welcomed the willingness of the US private sector to work with ASEAN governments and its private sector to develop training programs, pursue technology cooperation and extend technical assistance in priority areas.
16. The Closing Session of the Dialogue was held in the White House at a meeting with the National Security Advisor to the US President, Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
17. The 17th ASEAN-US Dialogue would be held in Viet Nam in the first half of 2003.
18. The Meeting was held in the spirit of cooperation and cordiality that characterized the relations between ASEAN and the United States.
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