DOD Release -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Southeast Asia defense ministers from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in Singapore today to discuss ways to deepen cooperation to address regional security challenges.
Secretary Austin reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to strengthening its partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and support for ASEAN centrality, highlighting the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit, hosted by President Biden, as a demonstration of that commitment. He emphasized the vital role the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus has played in building stronger multilateral defense cooperation.
Secretary Austin also discussed opportunities for increased maritime security cooperation with Southeast Asian partners, noting that effective maritime security is essential to the prosperity and livelihoods of the people of Southeast Asia. He also highlighted new U.S. initiatives announced at the May U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit and the Quad Summit that will enhance maritime transparency and build capacity in Southeast Asia, including through new U.S. Coast Guard activities.
Secretary Austin expressed his concern over the situation in Myanmar and thanked Southeast Asian partners for negotiating the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus to attempt to resolve the crisis peacefully. Southeast Asian defense ministers and heads of delegation shared similar perspectives on regional security challenges and the importance of cooperation with United States, including in key forums including ADMM-Plus.
The Ministers closed the meeting by reiterating their commitment to working together to address pressing challenges in the region and to continue these conversations as they work toward a successful ADMM-Plus in November.