Opening Remarks at U.S.-ASEAN Summit

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
October 9, 2013

The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube. 

Well, thank you very much, Your Majesty. Thank you for a wonderful welcome here and for your generous hospitality. And to all of the leaders here, we’re very grateful for the opportunity to be able to meet. We thank the Government of Brunei. Your Majesty, for the first time, I noticed up on the sign there, it emphasizes the first ASEAN-U.S. Summit. And while we’ve had meetings before the leaders, we’ve never had the opportunity to raise the level of the meeting and the level of the discussion to a summit. And we’re very grateful to you for doing so.

A moment where our nations can come together in order to discuss our partnership, the important issues that you just laid out, and the challenges that we know we face. And I know I speak for President Obama when I say we are exceedingly grateful for your hospitality and grateful for this particular opportunity.

I also want to especially thank the Government of Myanmar and President Thein Sein for their hard work as the U.S. Country Coordinator at ASEAN, and I thank them in advance for what we know will be a very productive year for U.S.-ASEAN relations when Myanmar takes the association’s chairmanship in 2014.

I bring you both President Obama’s sincerest greetings and his apologies for not being able to be here. You all understand why, and you just mentioned it, Your Majesty, in your comments, but I assure you that these events in Washington are a moment in politics and not more than that. The partnership that we share with ASEAN remains a top priority for the Obama Administration, and the ties among our nations – I think all of you know this from the engagement that we have on individual basis with you, as well as collectively through ASEAN – that those ties have been strong for decades now. And we know that strengthening those ties on security issues, on economic issues, and more on our people-to-people relationships, are a critical part of President Obama’s rebalance to Asia. That rebalance is a commitment, it is there to stay, and will continue into the future.

I’m also delighted, personally, to be here today, and I look forward to the discussion of the East Asia Summit tomorrow, and to continuing to strengthen our partnership in many, many ways, Your Majesty. I’ll have more to say after the press has departed, but I really want to express President Obama’s commitment to this relationship, to ASEAN, to the value of our meeting here, and we’re very grateful for your hospitality. Thank you. 

PRN: 2013/T15-13