The United States is a Pacific nation, and as such, " has an enormous stake in the people and the future of Asia," said U.S. President Barack Obama to leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
The meeting, which took place in New York alongside of the U.N. General Assembly session, is only the second between U.S. and ASEAN leaders, and the first to take place in the United States. The fact that it took place "reflects ASEAN's growing importance, and unprecedented cooperation between the U.S. and ASEAN countries," said President Obama:
"The region is home to some of our largest trading partners and buys many of our exports, supporting millions of American jobs. We need partnerships with Asian nations to meet the challenges of growing our economy, preventing proliferation and addressing climate change. As President, I’ve, therefore, made it clear that the United States intends to play a leadership role in Asia."
As preparation for closer cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries, the U.S. has already begun to strengthen old alliances, deepen new partnerships, and reengage with regional organizations, including ASEAN, said President Obama.
"ASEAN countries are increasingly playing a leadership role in the region, and ASEAN itself has the potential to be a very positive force in global affairs. That is why the United States has accepted ASEAN’s invitation to join the East Asia Summit, which will help us meet regional and global challenges together."
The Obama Administration believes very strongly that balanced and sustainable economic growth will hinge in good part on U.S. relations with Asia. For that reason, trade is an important aspect of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship. And it is growing, said President Obama, with American exports to ASEAN countries growing twice as fast as they are to other regions.
"Through APEC and initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we’re pursuing trade relationships that benefit all our countries," said President Obama. "And we will continue to support ASEAN’s goal of creating a more effective and integrated community by 2015, which would advance regional peace and stability."