Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ASEAN welcomes first US ambassador

2011-04-26 16:32

JAKARTA, April 26, 2011 (AFP) - The United States' first ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) presented his credentials to the block's secretariat in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Former attorney David Lee Carden told reporters the 10-nation grouping was "full of big ideas" as he formally introduced himself to ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan.
"The United States is committed at all levels to supporting a robust ASEAN role in realising the vision of an integrated, secure, prosperous and democratic Southeast Asia," he said.
The United States is the second non-ASEAN country after Japan to permanently base an ambassador at the grouping's Jakarta headquarters.
The move comes as the Obama administration attempts to ramp up its engagement with Asia after being perceived to have stepped back from the region under the leadership of George W. Bush.
ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The United States is keen to reap greater trade and business rewards from its relationship with the block of more than 500 million people, which is also sees as a strategic bulwark against the rise of regional power China.