Phnom Penh, Cambodia
19 November 2012
President Benigno S. Aquino III and the 10-member ASEAN bloc welcomed the historic participation of newly re-elected United States President Barack Obama and his delegation during the 4th ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting.
The ASEAN and the US exchanged views on regional and international issues, and reviewed the state of ASEAN-US cooperation.
In his statement during the meeting, President Aquino extended his congratulations to President Obama on winning his second term and said that his visit signalled the deepening interest the United States has in the region.
“Under the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America has been rebalancing towards our region and their presence today adds a special dimension to our regional discussions particularly on issues that have far-reaching political and economic implications. It is especially vital to have the world’s largest national economy involved in the discussions considering the interconnectedness of our current milieu. Each one of our nations has a stake in the stability of Southeast Asia. The United States understands this and, for this reason, has chosen to work with us to ensure the peace and continuous advancement of our region,” according to President Aquino.
He reiterated the Philippines’ position that territorial and maritime disputes should be settled peacefully and in accordance with the rule of law. The country will also continue to support the further inclusion of economies active in the region in the discussions.
“They serve to expand our capacities as an organization and they will certainly accelerate our progress in the pursuit of shared prosperity for the region,” he said.
The President further added that the ASEAN region is very diverse and its harmony can easily be disrupted by sheer political, military, or economic might and this may lead to instability. The US does not take sides in disputes but has a strategic stake in the freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, and the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The ASEAN leaders also welcomed the US announcement of its Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative, which aims to help prepare ASEAN member states to pursue high-standard trade agreements.