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Asean opens door to first United States ambassador


JAKARTA: The United States’ first ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) presented his credentials to the regional bloc’s secretariat in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Former attorney David Lee Carden told reporters that the 10-nation grouping was “full of big ideas” as he formally introduced himself to Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan.

“The United States is committed at all levels to supporting a robust Asean role in realizing the vision of an integrated, secure, prosperous and democratic Southeast Asia,” he said.

The United States is the second non-Asean country after Japan to permanently base an ambassador at the grouping’s Jakarta headquarters.

The move comes as the Obama administration attempts to ramp up its engagement with Asia after being perceived to have stepped back from the region under the leadership of George W. Bush.

Asean groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The United States is keen to reap greater trade and business rewards from its relationship with the bloc of more than 500 million people.

Asean is seen as a strategic bulwark against the rise of regional power China.


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