Washington DC (VNA) - US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on August 6 issued a press statement to congratulate the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Secretariat on the bloc’s 54th founding anniversary (August 8).

In his statement, he wrote the strategic partnership between the United States and ASEAN contributes to their shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, with ASEAN and ASEAN-led mechanisms as a centerpiece of regional architecture.

He said he looks forward to additional fruitful engagement in the region when US Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Singapore and Vietnam this month to continue to discuss the cooperation on pressing regional and international challenges as well as on deepening ties between the US and Southeast Asian peoples.

Blinken reaffirmed that the US would continue to partner with ASEAN countries in the fight against COVID-19. To date, the US has provided more than 23 million vaccine doses and over 158 million USD in health and humanitarian assistance to ASEAN members to support their response to the pandemic.

“We will also be there to support the region to build back better from the economic damage wrought by the pandemic by helping drive a green recovery and ensure readiness for future outbreaks,” wrote the statement.

Regarding the sides’ people-to-people ties, the diplomat highlighted the US’s ongoing support for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and other cultural, academic, and professional exchanges./.