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"The United States must have strong relationships and a strong and productive presence here in Southeast Asia," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Secretary Clinton made the remarks in Phuket, Thailand, where she signed the United States instrument of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. At the same time, the 10 foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, signed an Instrument of Extension of the Treaty.
Among other things, parties to the treaty pledge to promote perpetual peace and everlasting amity among their peoples, and to cooperate in economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.
During her visit to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta in February of this year, Secretary Clinton announced that the administration of President Barack Obama would pursue accession to the treaty.
The speed at which the United States worked together with ASEAN members to realize U.S. accession to the treaty, highlights America's re-energized involvement in Southeast Asia, as well as the close mutual ties sought by ASEAN and the United States. U.S. accession is a symbol of U.S. desire to engage more deeply and effectively with ASEAN on regional and global priorities.
The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed by the original members of ASEAN in 1976. All ASEAN members have since become parties to the Treaty. In 1987, ASEAN amended the treaty to invite countries outside of Southeast Asia to accede to the treaty, reflecting ASEAN's stated desire to further enhance cooperation with all peace-loving nations, both within and outside Southeast Asia.
In a joint press conference in Bangkok with Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu, Secretary Clinton said that the U.S. accession to the Treaty "is a very strong statement on behalf of our administration that the United States intends to be a very active presence in the region bilaterally, as with a friend and ally like Thailand, and multilaterally through organizations like ASEAN."