US to intensify engagement with ASEAN: John Kerry

DPA Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) | Updated on March 13, 2018

A file photo of US Secretary of State John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said Washington remains committed to ensuring peace and stability in South-east Asia.

“We are committed to ensuring a peaceful, stable and prosperous South-east Asia,” he said at a meeting with ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“Maritime security is a concern because your region is home to the world’s busiest ports and most critical sea lanes,” he said. “What happens here matters to the United States but it also matters to everybody else, it matters to the global community.” Kerry said the US hopes to see immediate progress in the efforts of China and the 10-nation ASEAN to come up with a binding code of conduct to ease tensions in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

“While we do not take a position on a competing territorial claim over land features, we have a strong interest in a manner in which the disputes of the South China Sea are addressed and in the conduct of the parties,” he said.

Security analysts have expressed concern about a growing number of incidents in the South China Sea, most recently the May 9 killing of a Taiwan fisherman by the Philippine coast guard.

Kerry said Washington also wants to work closely with ASEAN in the area of cyber security and in combating cyber crimes.

“We’re very eager to help ASEAN member states build capacity in order to make sure that all of us are protected against cyber threats and in order to reduce the risks that these cyber threats carry,” he said.

He did not comment on whether or not he would meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was also attending the ASEAN meetings, amid furore over National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is reportedly stranded in Moscow’s international airport after his US passport was revoked.

Snowden, a former technical contractor for the National Security and the Central Intelligence Agency, is wanted by US authorities for leaking details about the government’s internet-based surveillance programmes.

Published on July 01, 2013

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