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Immediate Release

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

Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder provided the following readout:

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Southeast Asia defense leaders from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste in Singapore today to discuss opportunities to advance regional peace and stability.
Secretary Austin reaffirmed the United States' enduring commitment to working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and support for ASEAN centrality, highlighting progress made after the United States and ASEAN elevated their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2022. He also expressed support for the vital role of the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus in facilitating multilateral cooperation on the region's security challenges.
Secretary Austin underscored the significant progress made by the United States and ASEAN on regional capacity-building efforts, including by convening the first cohort of the Emerging Defense Leaders Program in May 2024; developing workshops on Women, Peace, and Security issues in support of ASEAN's Regional Plan of Action; and developing a Maritime Security Roadmap through the ADMM-Plus Experts Working Group on Maritime Security in March 2024. Secretary Austin also highlighted ongoing U.S. support for maritime security across Southeast Asia, including through the U.S. Maritime Security Initiative and the Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness initiative.

Secretary Austin reiterated concerns about coercive activity by the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the South China Sea. He underscored the importance of respect for high seas freedom of navigation guaranteed under international law, and he called on the PRC to abide by the final and legally binding 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award. He also expressed deep concern about the escalating violence in Myanmar and thanked regional counterparts for the April 2024 ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Statement on Myanmar. He reiterated U.S. support for full implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.
The officials concluded the meeting by pledging to continue their cooperation in support of regional security ahead of the ADMM-Plus in November 2024.