US Defense Secretary to visit Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines

By Minh Nga   July 19, 2021 | 07:26 pm PT
US Defense Secretary to visit Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington, D.C., June 17, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines starting Friday, the Pentagon announced Monday.

The first visit to Southeast Asia by a top member of the Biden administration would demonstrate the importance it places on the region and on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an essential part of the Indo-Pacific architecture, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby said.

"This trip will underscore the enduring U.S. commitment to the region, and our interest in upholding the rules-based international order in the region and promoting ASEAN centrality."

There is no specific timeline yet for his visit to Vietnam but he "will meet with key leaders to reaffirm defense relationships and conduct bilateral meetings with senior officials."

In Singapore, he will speak at an event hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

At the Special ASEAN - U.S. Foreign Ministerial Meeting held virtually on July 14 and chaired by Lao Foreign Minister Saleumsay Kommasith and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the two sides emphasized the importance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea.

The two sides also expect to soon have an effective Code of Conduct in the sea in accordance with international laws and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that respects the legitimate rights and interests of all related parties.

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