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Immediate Release

Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Meeting With Southeast Asian Defense Ministers

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Southeast Asia defense ministers from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste in Singapore today to exchange views and discuss priorities for expanding cooperation in support of regional stability, security, and prosperity.  
Secretary Austin reaffirmed the United States’ enduring commitment to working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and support for ASEAN centrality, highlighting the recent elevation of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.  He emphasized the vital role the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus continues to play in driving multilateral cooperation to address regional challenges.  Southeast Asian defense ministers and heads of delegation reaffirmed their support for United States cooperative activities in the region, including in key forums such as the ADMM-Plus.
Secretary Austin discussed opportunities for advancing engagement with the ADMM-Plus through capacity-building programs and training courses, such as launching an emerging leaders fellowship program in September 2023 that will provide education and networking opportunities to young civilian and defense leaders in the region.  Secretary Austin also highlighted ongoing U.S. support to regional maritime security initiatives, including through the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Maritime Security, expanded U.S. Coast Guard regional maritime law enforcement programs, the U.S. Maritime Security Initiative, and the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness initiative.
Secretary Austin reiterated his concerns about the situation in Myanmar and thanked Southeast Asian partners for holding the Myanmar military regime to its commitments under the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.  He also expressed his deep commitment to supporting Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict in Europe.
The Ministers closed the meeting by pledging to work closely together to address pressing challenges in the region and to continue these conversations as they prepare for further engagement during the ADMM-Plus later this year.