World / Asia-Pacific US to renew ties with ASEAN countries

Via China Daily

The United States government is renewing its focus on Southeast Asia, but it is not a part of the efforts to contain China, former US ambassador to China said at the first Meeting of the ASEAN-US Eminent Persons Group (EPG) in Manila on Monday.

Former ambassador James Stapleton Roy, US representative to the meeting which started on Monday, said in his opening statement that the reason why Washington comeback to the region after years of preoccupation in the Middle East is the region's importance to American economy, and it should not be seen as part of the so- called "containing China" strategy.

"If we are approaching it that way, then that would be a failed policy because there is no support for that approach," said Roy at the sidelines of the meeting.

He said the US needs to pay attention to the fastest-growing economic regions such as Southeast Asia if it expects to continue its economic recovery.

Roy also said it would be a "mistake" to force the ASEAN to take sides since Southeast Asia and northeast Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, as well as the US "have important relations with China," the world's second biggest economy.

Philippine eminent person and former ASEAN Secretary General Rodolfo Severino Jr., who is co-chairing the meeting with Roy, said ASEAN had always maintained a neutral stance concerning the US and China.

The attendees of the first ASEAN-US EPG meeting, a recommendation of ASEAN-US Leaders, discussed various issues such as ASEAN-US relations, cooperation and coordination in trade, investment, disaster response and energy security etc.

The EPG, which is meeting for the first time in Manila since it was formed by leaders of the ASEAN and the US in 2009, is an advisory body tasked to formulate recommendations on how to strengthen the relations between the two sides, specifically economic, political and security.

Ainsley Shea