ASEAN wants talks with China, US; wants UK as new dialogue partner

The Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) instructed their foreign ministers to hold meetings with China and the United States of America (USA) as soon as possible to enhance their ties with external partners.

The ASEAN leaders meet at the organization’s secretariat building in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 24, 2021. (ASEAN)

The ASEAN Leaders reached the agreement amid the ongoing tension in the South China Sea.

In the ASEAN's Chairman Statement, the Leaders underscored the importance of further strengthening ASEAN Centrality and unity in our engagement with ASEAN’s external partners through ASEAN-led mechanisms in order to build mutual trust and confidence.

The Regional Bloc decided to hold talks with both the US and China as it sought to reinforce an open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture with ASEAN at the center.

"We instructed the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to hold their meetings with the People’s Republic of China and the United States as soon as possible, prior to the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting," the Leaders said.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN Leaders said they were looking forward to commemorating the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations as well as the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Relations.

Meanwhile, the Leaders also agreed to maintain ASEAN’s proactive and outward-looking approach in the conduct of ASEAN’s external relations based on shared interests, constructive engagements, and mutual benefits, which can contribute to ASEAN’s Community-building and development cooperation efforts.

With this, they agreed with the ASEAN Secretariat’s recommendation for ASEAN to accept the United Kingdom’s application for Dialogue Partnership and tasked the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to undertake the appropriate process to facilitate the United Kingdom to become a Dialogue Partner by the 54th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting/Post Ministerial Conferences.