Briefing on the ASEAN Regional Forum

Special Briefing
Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Bali, Indonesia
July 23, 2011

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: All right. So the ASEAN Regional Forum is ongoing now, and this is the session in the morning – this is the part of the ASEAN Regional Forum where there is broad discussion on regional security. And the topics this year are how to better organize for disaster relief. I think there’s a recognition that over the course of the last couple of years that the region has not responded as effectively and in as – in an organized way to the challenges of Japan, of Achay, of these torrential rains and tsunamis and other natural disasters that have struck Asia.

We also talked about, at the outset, steps that had been taken to mediate and improve the situation on the Thai-Cambodian border. As you know, they’ve had some flaring issues associated with territorial matters. Then some general discussion about how the various institutions of Asia work together – the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and ADMM+8. Now, you wouldn’t think that those would be particularly contentious, but at the outset when you’re trying to describe how institution will work together, there’s quite a lot of difference of views.

I think the U.S. position is that we see a relationship and a hierarchy among some of these groups, and we’d like to see greater coordination although – but I think there are different views going forward. The – so that was the overall context. Secretary Clinton then – one last issue – I think the general view – the ASEAN Regional Forum has a primary focus among ASEAN states of Southeast Asian security. But they are trying to demonstrate a effective focus on Northeast Asian issues as well. So there was a general discussion about necessary steps to resume Six-Party Talks and a desire to see a resumption of dialogue.

PRN: 2011/T51-32