Intervention by Ambassador Blake at the Asian-African Summit, Jakarta

Asian-African Summit 2015
April 22-23

Intervention by
Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Head of Delegation

I would like to extend my deep appreciation to His Excellency President Jokowi for inviting the United States to observe the historic 2015 Asian-African Summit and the Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the 1955 Asian-African Conference.

Indonesia is an ideal host for this momentous occasion. Indonesia has long been a champion for peace and cooperation on the international stage.  Very notably, however, over the past 17 years Indonesia also has become a model of democratic transformation, religious pluralism and tolerance, and economic development.  It is now home to the world’s largest democracy after India and the United States.  As a fellow democracy, the United States  shares Indonesia’s respect for fundamental human rights— the first of ten principles extolled by the original Bandung conference.   It is our hope that the countries attending this conference in 2015 will leave Bandung inspired by Indonesia’s commitment to a political system based on the consent of the governed, rule of law, and respect for human rights.  Countries whose policies respect and reflect these rights are far more likely to be more peaceful and more prosperous.

The United States is fully committed to partnering with countries in Asia and Africa to advance cooperation and address shared challenges.

In Asia, the United States has demonstrated this commitment, most recently, by President Obama’s strategic decision to rebalance American efforts and resources towards the Asia-Pacific. Our expanding engagement with Asia is about sustaining progress and stability in a region relatively free of conflict—a region where democracy increasingly has taken hold.  Our rebalance provides for a win-win scenario in which every country in the region, including China, contributes to the continuation of decades of peace and stability.  America’s economy combined with that of our Asia-Pacific allies represents $25 trillion dollars.  That is a third of the global economy.  We are currently finalizing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement— a deal that will greatly expand trade and establish regional commitments to environmental protection, labor rights, and intellectual property.  This agreement will promote prosperity and high quality economic growth across the Asia-Pacific.  At the annual U.S.-ASEAN leader’s summit in 2014, President Obama reaffirmed our commitment to working on economic issues, social issues, security issues, disaster relief, and enhancing educational opportunities for youth because we are stronger together.  The United States. is invested in building the capacity not just of individual nations but between nations, through triangular cooperation so that together we can become more capable partners to meet the regional challenges ahead.

President Obama is also leading the United States in its enduring commitment to Africa.  In 2014, the President hosted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and engaged in dialogue on three issues of shared interest and mutual concern: investing in Africa’s future, peace and regional stability, and enhancing governance.  We are determined to be a long-term equal partner with Africa.  We recognize Africa for its greatest resource—its people.  This is why we seek to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs and business leaders through our Mandela Washington Fellows program.  We want to partner with Africa to build the infrastructure economies need to thrive.  For example, at the U.S.-Africa LeadersSummit, President Obama announced a new initiative, Power Africa, to help bring electricity to more than 20 million homes and businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa.  As Africa continues to face enormous challenges such as poverty and conflict, hunger and disease, we cannot lose sight of the new Africa that is emerging.

Beyond Bandung, challenges remain, including combating climate change, infectious disease, strengthening good governance, countering violent ideologies and terrorism, building an international system of rules and norms that prevents conflict, intimidation, and instability, and countering the threat of nuclear proliferation— a priority we are fulfilling through our commitments to the three pillars of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty: disarmament, nonproliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The United States looks forward to cooperating with Indonesia and other countries represented at this conference to overcome these challenges.

Thank you.

As prepared.