Teleconference with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for East Asia and Oceania on the National Security Council Edgard D. Kagan
The audio file for this briefing is available here.
Moderator: Good day from the U.S. Department of State’s Asia Pacific Media Hub in Manila. I’m the Hub Director, Zia Syed, and I want to thank you all for joining this briefing. Today, we are pleased to be joined from Washington, D.C., by Daniel J. Kritenrbrink, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and Edgard D. Kagan, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for East Asia and Oceania on the National Security Council.
We’ll begin today’s call with opening remarks from Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink and then Mr. Kagan will follow. We’ll try to get to as many questions as we can during the time that we have, which is approximately 35 minutes.
Finally, as a reminder, today’s call is on the record. And with that, I will turn it over to Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Thank you very much, Zia. Good evening, everyone. This is Dan Kritenbrink. Honored to be with you, as always, and so grateful to all of our friends in the media for joining us this evening.
I’m delighted to be joined tonight by my good friend, Senior Director Edgard Kagan, who was central and instrumental to organizing last week’s U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit.
Look, in a nutshell, last week’s U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit was a tremendous success. We believe that this summit displayed the full breadth and depth of our foundational relationship with ASEAN over the course of two days. Our intention was truly to roll out the red carpet for our friends in ASEAN, to show tremendous respect for ASEAN and its leaders, starting with Speaker Pelosi’s lunch with ASEAN leaders on Capitol Hill and engagement with business leaders, and then the President’s dinner at the White House, all on day one; followed on Friday, on day two, by a full day of dialogue at the State Department, concluding again with both the President, the Vice President, as well as multiple Cabinet secretaries.
During the summit, the President also announced his nominee for U.S. ambassador to ASEAN.
The Secretary and Deputy Secretary of State also met with several delegations on the sidelines of the summit, and we held many pre-summit events with civil society, youth, and diaspora communities. These events underscored our long history of people-to-people ties between ASEAN and the United States. Our combined 1 billion people, including over 7 million Americans with ties of family and heritage to the countries of Southeast Asia, are truly the core driver of our partnership. We are excited to continue decades of positive collaboration with our friends in Southeast Asia.
I was delighted, along with Senior Director Kagan, to have a courtside seat for this very special summit. This was the first U.S.-ASEAN get-together held in Washington, D.C., and it was the largest in-person summit of the Biden-Harris administration to date. Many ASEAN delegations also took the opportunity to travel to other U.S. cities to advance U.S.-ASEAN ties far beyond the corridors of Washington, D.C.
I would say that this was far more than simply a summit. In reality, this was a celebration of America’s 45-year partnership with ASEAN and a preview of what the next 45 years hold as we elevate our relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Joint Vision Statement that we released lays out our shared vision for a freer, more prosperous, more interconnected, and more resilient Indo-Pacific. In it, we committed ourselves to collaborating on subregional development in the Mekong; enhancing our people-to-people ties; building better health security, including through partnership with the Quad; and working together on climate action. Our Joint Vision Statement also reaffirms our mutual respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of Ukraine, as well as our deep concern over the crisis in Burma.
Maritime security was a major theme throughout the summit. The Vice President announced $60 million in new regional maritime initiatives advancing maritime law enforcement, improving maritime domain awareness, and curbing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. There were many initiatives that we announced, as we outlined in our Fact Sheet that was released on day one of the summit. And that fact sheet and its deliverables were all aimed at deepening our relations with a strengthened and empowered ASEAN.
The $150 million in new regional initiatives that we announced is, of course, in addition to the $12.1 billion in development economic health and security assistance, and over $1.4 billion in humanitarian assistance that we have provided to Southeast Asia since 2002. In addition, for public health alone, the United States has invested over $3.3 billion since 2002.
In addition, the Biden-Harris administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request included over $800 million in bilateral assistance for ASEAN partners, and over $25 million to deepen relations with ASEAN.
I’d also like to take a moment just to briefly highlight some of the work that the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau and U.S. universities are doing throughout Southeast Asia to strengthen people-to-people ties through research and training. For example, Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management announced new plans to educate 100 million learners by 2030, many of them throughout Southeast Asia. The Development Finance Corporation and Fulbright University Vietnam, have signed a financing agreement for $37 million in DFC financing for FUV’s new campus in Ho Chi Minh City. And these examples are just a very small snapshot of U.S. university engagement in Southeast Asia.
Under programs like Fulbright and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, or YSEALI, the United States is proud to support the next generation of ASEAN leaders. And as the White House announced, and in the fact sheet for the summit, we are doubling the size of both of these programs.
Throughout the two-day summit, the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Deputy Secretary of State, and other senior U.S. officials, including Cabinet secretaries, were able to develop personal relationships with the leaders of ASEAN and they had candid and productive conversations on a wide range of issues. For example, the Chamber of Commerce and U.S.-ASEAN Business Council facilitated a discussion with U.S. private sector business executives anchoring the U.S. commitment to investing in the dynamism of optimism. At this event, Secretary Raimondo announced that the largest trade mission – the largest U.S. trade mission, Trade Winds, will be held in Thailand next year with spin-off visits to five other Southeast Asian markets. The summit took advantage of momentum for elevating the strategic partnership of ASEAN, particularly for our business.
Vice President Harris, joined by Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, Energy Secretary Granholm, Transport Secretary Buttigieg, and USAID Administrator Power, hosted a productive discussion on climate action, clean energy transformation, and sustainable infrastructure. ASEAN welcomed deeper cooperation with the United States on these issues, including the first U.S.-ASEAN energy ministerial in September of 2021.
In Southeast Asia, of course, the crisis in Burma continues to be at the forefront of ASEAN’s attention as well as a top priority for President Biden. At the U.S.-ASEAN summit, the leaders discussed in detail our efforts to hold the Burmese regime accountable and our support for the implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus. The empty chair that we reserved for Burma at the summit represented not just the unfulfilled vision of the people of Burma for a democratic future, but also the regime’s empty promises to the people of Burma. Leaders discussed ending the violence and increasing efficiency and administering humanitarian aid to the people of Burma, especially those in distant areas and vulnerable situations.
The leaders discussed their shared commitment to the rules-based international order that we have all depended on to grow our economies and our societies. The leaders also discussed Russia’s continued assault on Ukraine’s people and the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As I mentioned, of course, the Joint Vision Statement reaffirmed the sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The President also emphasized in the plenary session the importance of fundamental freedoms and human rights, while acknowledging America’s own shortcomings in this regard. He noted that respect for the rule of law and human rights is fundamental to a free and open Indo-Pacific and remains central to U.S. foreign policy.
So, when I say that our leaders at the U.S.-ASEAN summit discussed it all, I truly mean it. Again, we thought this was a tremendously successful summit that advanced concrete cooperation between the United States and the countries of ASEAN, allowed the leaders to engage in sustained and fruitful exchange on a wide range of important strategic and economic issues and, again, further developed I think the personal relations between our leaders.
Let me stop there. Thank you for allowing me to make those opening comments. I’ll ask Zia to hand it over to my good friend Edgard Kagan for any comments he may wish to make at the outset. Look forward to your questions later. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Please go ahead, Mr. Kagan.
Mr. Kagan: Thank you very much, Zia, and to Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink, my good friend Dan, thank you for the lay-down. I would just add a couple of things.
One is that this was important to the President. The President fully appreciates the importance of expanding U.S. ties to ASEAN. He sees ASEAN as an organization with which the United States wants to do more, and that this is really critical to our broader efforts in the Indo-Pacific.
I’d also point out that this is happening at a time when there are tremendous demands on the President’s time and on many other senior officials in the administration, and obviously Ukraine stands first and foremost there. But I think the President is very, very committed to the idea that we can’t allow ourselves to be overly focused on Ukraine – that the administration needs to continue doing what it laid out from the very beginning of its time in office in terms of really focusing on the Indo-Pacific and expanding and strengthening our position and our relations in the Indo-Pacific. And I think the President very much sees ASEAN as a critical aspect of this, and that was first demonstrated in the engagements that he had in the fall at the time of the ASEAN summit that was held virtually, chaired by Brunei.
But I think that his further engagements with leaders from Southeast Asia, discussion with other leaders from the region, all just reinforced his view that this is a critical place for the U.S. in terms of how we strengthen our relationship with many longstanding partners, allies — countries who all are extremely important to the United States and where we’re seeking to do more.
I think our vision is very much that we want to strengthen our bilateral ties, but there’s also a recognition that in order to be able to strengthen our bilateral ties with countries in Southeast Asia, we need to be able to work with ASEAN. ASEAN is extremely important, as all of you know, to countries throughout Southeast Asia, and without a strong relationship and investment in strengthening that relationship, I think the best [inaudible] is the decision to elevate the relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Without that, we are not able to really have the kind of broader position in Southeast Asia that we want.
I think that the President very much appreciated the opportunity to spend time with his fellow leaders, and he was grateful to them that they made the trip. He knows it’s a very long way. I think that the dinner was very special, in part because it was very small and very intimate and they had very, very good conversations. I think that also we thought it was very important to host this in Washington. As Dan mentioned, we’ve only done a special summit like this one other time, and that was in Sunnylands in 2016, which I would just note, parenthetically, Dan was in the job that I currently hold and was the driving force behind doing that.
And I think that we felt that this time, part of the argument for doing it in Washington, from our standpoint, was to make clear that the idea of strengthening ties with ASEAN is important not just to the White House, not just to the State Department, but it is important to departments and agencies across the U.S. Government. And so, we were very happy at how many of our Cabinet-level officials participated in discussions.
I think there’s been a lot of focus, I think, on some of the symbolic aspects of this, but there’s also been a lot of focus on the assistance that was announced and that there is cooperation. I think that for us – and it’s been said – this is very important. These are things that we want to do with ASEAN, as compared to things that we’re doing bilaterally, that we’re doing with ongoing efforts. These reflect new areas of cooperation and areas that we believe are important to ASEAN. And one of the things that we’ve learned is that we need to make sure that we’re responding to what ASEAN partners want.
And so, from our standpoint, some of the key things that were announced reflect what we have heard from our ASEAN partners as areas that they would like to see the U.S. do more. I would also note the significance of the Joint Vision Statement. I think that there is not always a history of getting joint vision statements when ASEAN meets with its dialogue partners. We felt it was very important to have one, and we were very, very encouraged by the enthusiasm and constructive approach that ASEAN countries took to doing this. And we believe that this is a significant statement that reflects areas that the U.S. and ASEAN have strengthened our cooperation; we have further aligned our visions; and that it reflects also we’re going forward and strengthening those ties in the future.
The last thing I would say is we are particularly proud of the people-to-people aspect of this. And in that regard, and particularly, we’re happy to be able to announce the U.S.-ASEAN Institute for Rising Leaders that will be hosted by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. I think that from our standpoint, this reflects what we see as one of the things that really undergirds the U.S. partnership with ASEAN, which is the people-to-people ties, which we see as being extremely important and something that we’re very, very proud of and believe we need to do more to expand.
So with that, let me hand it over to Zia. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you very much. We’ll now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call. Our first question will go to Sui-Lee Wee from The New York Times in Singapore. Sui-Lee, if you could please go ahead.
Question: Thank you. So I have two questions. First, is there an effort to persuade Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo to disinvite Russia from the G20 summit? And if so, what was the response?
And related to that, did the administration try to press Vietnam to distance itself from Russia or try to convince other countries, such as Indonesia and Thailand, the countries that have been less vocal about their criticism against Russia, to speak up more? Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Thank you very much. Edgard, do you want to take those or do you want me to take an initial stab?
Mr. Kagan: Sure. I’ll take that. I think that we were very focused on the importance of discussions with ASEAN as an organization, the leaders, about ASEAN and about Southeast Asia. So, I think that there was – the President discussed his views on what is happening in Ukraine and the importance of a strong international response. I don’t think that there was a particular focus on trying to persuade countries to distance themselves. I think that there was, however, a focus on making sure the countries understood the U.S. perspective on this, a perspective which is shared by quite a few other countries.
And I think that we were satisfied with some of the movement and the language that emerged in the joint statement. I think that we recognize that every country in the region has its own different history, and that some of this means that some of them have closer ties to Russia. I think our view is that all of them appreciate the significance of standing up for sovereignty and independence and territorial integrity. I think that they very clearly referred to the importance of respecting the UN Charter. And so from our standpoint, we believe that this is the kind of progress that we believe is happening as countries come to grips with the significance of what is happening and the totality of the brutality of what is happening in Ukraine.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Edgard, thanks very much. And if I could just add just a minor point or two to that, and I fully agree with everything that Edgard said. I was just quite struck in the conversations among the leaders, how many ASEAN leaders spoke out to again express their deep concern over Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. And as you saw in the Joint Vision Statement that Edgard highlighted, there was unanimous agreement, as we outlined in the Joint Vision Statement, that all of us must respect the sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
So, certainly the President made very clear our deep concerns over that. But again, I was quite gratified and impressed by the number of ASEAN leaders that spoke out to express their concerns as well. And I think as Edgard has noted, I think there is definitely a consensus, a strong consensus, around reaffirming our respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
Moderator: Thank you. Next if we could go to Kym Bergmann from Asia Pacific Defence in Canberra, Australia. Kym, please go ahead.
Question: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time, and again, I’d like to say just how important these briefings are for the media. My question relates to the South China Sea. And I see in the Vision Statement you refer to the importance of undertaking confidence-building measures and practical measures also to reduce tensions. So could you speak to that a little, about what you actually have in mind?
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Thank you very much for your question. I would say it is perfectly natural that in a U.S.-ASEAN summit that there would be a focus on maritime issues, particularly in the South China Sea. And I think both in the discussions among the leaders and in the Joint Vision Statement, I think you can see where the consensus lies amongst us. We are focused on ensuring peace and stability and prosperity across the South China Sea. We’re focused on ensuring that the key to maintaining peace, security, and stability in the region is ensuring that all disputes and all behavior are both resolved in, and rooted in international law, including UNCLOS. We reiterated our support for freedom of navigation and overflight. We also stated our support for the full implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties, and also we support an environment conducive to a code of conduct on the South China Sea while emphasizing that any code of conduct has to be consistent with international law.
I think apart from that as well, as you can see in the Joint Vision Statement, there is a focus on practical cooperation in the maritime domain. Part of that is represented by the new programs that were announced in our fact sheet that will be implemented by the Coast Guard, which are focused on developing the capacity and the capabilities of our partners in the region to achieve maritime domain awareness so they understand what is happening in their maritime domains and territories; practical work we can take together on countering illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and at an even more practical level, developing capabilities in search and rescue and other areas.
So, the point I’m trying to make is I think this was both a high-level diplomatic conversation underscoring the principles that we all hold dear vis-à-vis the South China Sea, coupled with very practical assistance designed to raise the capacity of our partners to defend their interests and exploit the resources in the South China Sea.
But those are my comments. Edgard, I didn’t know if you wanted to add anything to that.
Mr. Kagan: The only thing I would add is that I think that during the discussions themselves, our view is that there are some very strong statements on the South China Sea and on the importance of living up to some basic principles of international law. I think that we left here feeling that there’s actually more alignment between our views and those of ASEAN as a group, as compared to some of the bilateral discussions than we had expected.
So, for us, I think we feel that we have a very similar perspective in many ways on the South China Sea and the fact that we were able to get a joint statement, and one that was so clear on basic principles and values I think from our standpoint, was quite positive.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: I think that’s so true, and if I could just foot-stomp Edgard’s comment about how pleased we are with the Joint Vision Statement. I think we believe that the Joint Vision Statement is truly comprehensive, it’s strategic, and really represents a convergence of interest between the United States and ASEAN. As Edgard underscored earlier, we strongly support ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and I think you can really see the convergence of our interests and our values and our views on the region in that statement, including on maritime issues.
Moderator: Thank you. Next, we’ll go to Lyn Bacani from Marino World, here in the Philippines. Lyn, please go ahead.
Question: Yes, good morning. I’m Lyn Bacani from Marino World, Philippines. What are your expectations from our newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., given that the Philippines became a founding member of the ASEAN during his father’s presidency?
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Well, thank you very much for that. Edgard, I wondered if maybe you wanted to start by —
Mr. Kagan: Yes. I think that I want to be cautious. I think we recognize that there is only one president at a time. The inauguration has not yet taken place. I want to be cautious about saying anything having to do with expectations. I think our broader desire is to continue strengthening our bilateral relationship, and we very much believe that it is in keeping with strengthening our bilateral relationship to work together more closely in the context of ASEAN.
I think that our belief is that ASEAN offers a number of avenues for countries in the region to work together to advance common interests, and as I said before, we believe that working with ASEAN helps us also simultaneously strengthen bilateral relationships, and stronger bilateral relationships help us work better in ASEAN. And our sincere expectation is that we find ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Philippines, and at the same time that we are able to work together very effectively in the context of ASEAN.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: And Edgard, if I could, the only thing I would add, of course, was the phone call that Senior Director Kagan helped arrange that President Biden placed to President-elect Marcos in which the President underscored he looks forward to working with the president-elect to continue strengthening our alliance and expanding our cooperation on a broad range of issues. So, I think between Edgard’s comments and, of course, the President’s call, I think you can see that we’re very much looking forward with the new president-elect, once he’s inaugurated, to further strengthen our alliance.
Moderator: Thank you. Next if we could go to Danh Le Thanh with VnExpress in Vietnam. Danh, if you’re there.
Question: I’m Danh from VnExpress, Vietnam. Thank you for taking my question. So, I wonder if you can share some details on the conversation between President Biden and Prime Minister of Vietnam Phạm Minh Chính at the dinner in the White House, and what are the plans for cooperation between the two countries in the future? Thank you.
Mr. Kagan: Well, I’m going to let Dan, as a former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, take the lead on that one.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Thank you, Edgard, and thank you very much. Really want to give a shout-out to all of my friends at VnExpress, and really appreciate your question.
I think what I could do maybe most productively is to share a little bit about some of the issues that were discussed in the summit itself with the prime minister and then maybe share a little bit about the meeting that Secretary Blinken also had with the prime minister.
Let me start by saying we, of course, were absolutely honored to have Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính representing Vietnam at the summit, and it was a great opportunity for him to engage with the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and other leaders.
I think in the summit itself, we were very grateful that Prime Minister Chính, of course, spoke at every session, including on a broad range of issues, including our desire to combat climate change, to combat the spread of COVID-19, and of course to advance the shared principles on maritime-related matters that we’ve referred to elsewhere.
On the broader question of what our hopes and expectations for our very important partnership with Vietnam, I would refer to the very productive meeting that Secretary Blinken had with the prime minister. And I think it was quite representative of the strong partnership that we’ve built with Vietnam. It was a broad, substantive conversation related to our shared interests related to security, economics and prosperity, the environment, climate change, clean energy, combating COVID-19, and further growing our very strong people-to-people ties.
So again, while this summit was designed primarily to celebrate our vital partnership with ASEAN, it was also an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the incredible partnerships we have with many of the countries in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. And again, we were honored to have the prime minister here.
Edgard, I don’t know if you wanted to add anything to that.
Mr. Kagan: Not much, other than to say the President enjoyed his conversation with the prime minister at dinner as he did with the other leaders. The end — I think that worked — we felt that the dinner was very special because it really was a very intimate meal. It was only the leaders plus one. And I think that they were able to have very candid conversations, and so the President enjoyed that very much. That’s the kind of setting that he really enjoys. And he enjoys getting to know fellow leaders as people as well as people representing policies in their national interests.
And so, he had a lot of respect I think for the leaders when they came in. He met a number of them previously either as President or as vice president or when he was in the Senate. But I think that he really enjoyed that contact and found it very useful. I think that he is very committed to strengthening the bilateral relationships with countries in the region, and so very much enjoyed the conversation with the prime minister.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Yes, and Edgard, maybe just one final comment. I think what was so special about this last week is in addition to all the activities in the summit itself, we’ve talked about a number of very special events that were arranged on the margins of the summit, and I know that our friends at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce organized multiple events with individual leaders. I happened to attend the one organized for Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính. And again, it was really a celebration of the U.S.-Vietnam partnership, and I thought the prime minister really eloquently laid out his vision for what Vietnam is trying to achieve and what the United States and Vietnam are trying to achieve together, including by continuing to address legacies from the past in a very productive way while we continue to build this future-oriented partnership. And again, just as we are with ASEAN itself, we’re very hopeful for the future of our partnership with Vietnam.
Moderator: Thank you. I know, Mr. Kagan, you may be having to leave, but we’ll try to get in just a couple of more questions before we wrap up.
Mr. Kagan: I’m going to have to leave – I want to apologize to everyone. I have another call that I have to be on. But thank you all for joining, and we really are very grateful to the ASEAN leaders, but we’re also grateful to all of you for your interest. Thank you.
Moderator: And we’ll continue. Next, if we could go to Michelle Jamrisko from Bloomberg in Singapore. Michelle, please go ahead.
Question: Good evening and thanks for doing this call. I just wanted to ask about the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. There’s been some eagerness I think from many sides to get more detail on that. I’m wondering if you could say anything about what’s come out of the summit that might help shape that framework, and whether we might hear more ahead of the President’s trip to East Asia this month.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Well, Michelle, thanks very much for that. Look, I think we’ve spoken in various fora about the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. I would just remind colleagues on the line that the President announced our general plans for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework at the East Asia Summit and at the U.S.-ASEAN summit last fall. I believe it was October of 2021. And over the past few months, I think as many of you have been tracking, we’ve been working with partners across the region, including many in ASEAN, to define our shared objectives around I think some of the most important issues related to the 21st century economy, including trade facilitation, standards for the digital economy and technology, supply chain resiliency, decarbonization and clean energy infrastructure, worker standards, and several other areas.
So we’re indeed working intensively to develop the framework. We’re encouraged to see the intense interest in it so far. And I anticipate you’ll hear more from us on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework soon.
Moderator: Thank you, Assistant Secretary. Next if we could go to Elvis Chang from NTDAPTV in Taiwan. Elvis, please go ahead.
Question: My question is: did the summit reach any consensus or results on the Taiwan issue? Thank you.
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Thank you Elvis for the question. I think what I would say is this – I don’t recall the issue of Taiwan or cross-strait issues being discussed explicitly in the summit itself. I’m sure you and many of our friends on the call are well aware with the longstanding American position on cross-strait issues and our “One China” policy as determined by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances to Taiwan. And I’d be happy to address any questions you have on that.
But I don’t believe that Taiwan and cross-strait issues were discussed specifically in the context of the summit itself. And I think, candidly speaking, I think that would be somewhat natural given the nature of the agenda between the United States and ASEAN at this summit.
Moderator: Excellent. I appreciate all the time here, Assistant Secretary. If it’s okay, we will take one more question and then we’ll wrap up. For our last question we can go to —
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: I always enjoy interacting with the press and I’m really, really grateful for all our friends in the region for spending time with us. Let’s do one more.
Moderator: Okay, excellent. Thank you. Actually, we will go back to Kym Bergmann from Asia Pacific Defence in Canberra, who’s back in the queue. Kym, please go ahead.
Question: Great, thank you. I feel greedy for getting a second question. But I return to the vision statement and circumstances in Ukraine. I note in the vision statement that it doesn’t actually mention Russia and doesn’t use the phrase “Russian aggression,” and I’m not underestimating the difficulties at all of getting consensus amongst so many different countries. But was that just a little bit of a bridge too far, hoping for something firmer?
Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: No, I appreciate that, Kym. Look, I would just reiterate what we said earlier on the call. We’re really proud of the Joint Vision Statement. I think it represents a very strong consensus between the United States and our partners in ASEAN, including on the Ukraine issue. And I think the details of that paragraph reflect the consensus reached among our ten partners in ASEAN and the United States, and I think I’ll leave it at that.
I think you know very well what the U.S. position is. I think, as I’ve noted here in our call tonight, that I was quite struck in the plenary session in particular – the forcefulness of the views expressed by some of our friends in ASEAN about their deep concern over Russia’s egregious invasion, egregious and unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine. But I think the paragraph as you read it, again, reflects the consensus that we reached among all ten and the United States.
Moderator: Thank you very much. Well, that will conclude today’s call. I want to thank Daniel J. Kritenrbrink, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and Edgard Kagan, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for East Asia and Oceania on the National Security Council. And also I want to thank all of you for participating in this briefing and for asking your questions.
Please stay on the line for information regarding access to an audio recording of the call. Also, please be aware that a transcript of the call will be posted to our social media platforms and sent out to all of you within a day. If you have any questions about today’s call, you may contact the Asia Pacific Media Hub at AsiaPacMedia@state.gov. Thank you.