ASEAN’s founding anniversary observed in US hinh anh 1Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc chairs the ceremony. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) -
Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc chaired an online ceremony in Washington D.C. on the night of August 20 marking the 53rd founding anniversary of ASEAN.

The ceremony was co-organised by the Vietnamese Embassy, with Vietnam being ASEAN Chair in 2020, in coordination with embassies of other ASEAN member countries in the US. It saw the attendance of US Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell and Congressman Ted Yoho, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Non-proliferation, among others.

Delegates heard Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s message on the bloc’s 53rd anniversary and Vietnam’s 25 years of ASEAN membership.

From five initial member countries, ASEAN now has 10 members that cooperate with, respect, and understand each other and work towards peace, progress, and prosperity, the message said.

ASEAN has expanded relations with partners inside and outside of the region, including world powers, which creates momentum for dialogue and cooperation for peace, security, stability, and development in Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

The PM called on ASEAN member countries to uphold the bloc’s basic principles, international law, and a cooperative spirit both multilaterally and regionally.

He thanked other ASEAN members and partners for their support to Vietnam in fulfilling the role of ASEAN Chair in 2020 in the context of challenges facing the region and the world.

Ambassador Ngoc reviewed the bloc’s development and its cooperation with partners, including the US, in maintaining peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the Indian Ocean-Asia-Pacific.

Vietnam and other ASEAN countries appreciate the US’s support for efforts in building and developing the ASEAN Community, he said, and especially in the fight against COVID-19.

As ASEAN Chair, Vietnam has closely coordinated with other member countries to enhance unity and solidarity in the bloc and promote cooperation with partners, the ambassador said.

Vietnam believes in a bright future for the ASEAN-US strategic partnership and hopes that the US will continue to engage in the region in a constructive spirit, contributing to maintaining peace, security, stability, cooperation, respect for international law, and a rules-based order, he continued.

In his remarks, Stilwell passed on greetings from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who affirmed that ASEAN and ASEAN-led mechanisms form a significant part of the US’s vision for the Indo-Pacific.

The US backs ASEAN centrality, sovereignty, rule of law, and transparency, he emphasised, adding that the country will continue to stand side-by-side with the bloc to strengthen the US-ASEAN strategic partnership.

He suggested the US and ASEAN promote connectivity, develop human resources, and continue to pursue sustainable development.

The two sides should upgrade the Lower Mekong Initiative to the US-Mekong Partnership in order to deal with issues regarding infrastructure, energy, water resources, and cross-border crime.

Amid the complexity of COVID-19, the US hopes for the establishment of effective cooperation mechanisms in public health between the US and ASEAN, with coordination from Indonesia.

He also lauded Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in the first half of this year, and expressed his hope that Vietnam and other ASEAN countries will reap even more success.

For his part, Yoho said the US stands ready to join hands with ASEAN and its member countries in economics, public health, and poverty reduction./.