US assured ASEAN of vaccines, among others
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken supports ASEAN centrality
MANILA – Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken assured the ASEAN foreign ministers and the ASEAN Secretary General of his country’s commitment to ASEAN centrality as well as support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific as part of the U.S. vision for a free and open region.
According to State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, Mr. Blinken spoke with his ASEAN counterparts during the U.S. – ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting yesterday.
“The Secretary and ASEAN foreign ministers discussed pressing regional and international challenges, including combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, acting boldly against the climate crisis, strengthening human capital development, and the urgency of action on Burma,” Spokesperson Ned Price said.
Secretary Blinken said his government will provide more than 500 million safe and effective vaccine doses to Gavi to be distributed by COVAX to 92 low- and middle-income countries worldwide and to the African Union in addition to a US$2 billion contribution to Gavi, the global vaccine initiative, in support of COVAX, thereby making the United States the single largest contributor to the international response against COVID-19.
Mr. Price said Secretary Blinken shared the information on the donation of the United States of more than 23 million vaccine doses and nearly US$160 million assistance to ASEAN member states to fight COVID-19. The US Secretary of State also announced the plan of the United States to provide US$500,000 to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to support in the acquisition of life-saving vaccines and continue supporting the ASEAN Secretariat to develop an ASEAN Public Health Emergency Coordination System.
Secretary Blinken said it is important to take bold action in the 2020s to address climate crisis and driving a green recovery, He also recalled the American assistance to businesses in ASEAN including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to begin operations and ensure readiness for future pandemics. He also expressed his country’s support for reliable and sustainable energy systems in ASEAN and the work of the U.S. ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership to pursue programs to address urbanization challenges in transport, water, energy and health.
He also underscored the importance of human capital development in the region and recalled the ongoing U.S. support for the next generation of ASEAN leaders, professionals, innovators and part of the Billion Futures Scholars Program as well as the YSEALI Academy at Fullbright University Vietnam, and the YSEALI Seeds for the Future.
In closing, he also expressed grave concerns about the military coup in Myanmar and called on ASEAN to take joint action to urge the military to end the violence and release those unjustly detained and restore Burma’s path to democracy. (Melo M. Acuña)
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J, Blinken. (US State Department photo)