ASEAN welcomes the impending appointment of the first US Ambassador to ASEAN as a significant gesture of the US in recognising the importance of ASEAN as the premier regional organisation in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Scot Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia, has been nominated by the Bush Administration as the first U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“We hope the other Dialogue Partners of ASEAN [Australia, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia] will follow suit soon,” said Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of ASEAN.

He considered the nomination of Mr. Marciel as a manifestation of U.S. recognition of the growing importance of ASEAN as a regional organisation, serving as a centerpiece of community-building in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

“We will be ready to work with the United States on a broad list of issues of mutual interest for the well-being, stability and security of the region,” he said.

“We appreciate the U.S. goodwill as reflected in the nomination of Mr. Marciel to work with us as a group,” he added.

Mr. Marciel visited the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta late February and met with the Secretary-General to familiarise himself with the current community-building agenda of ASEAN. The United States, through Mr. Marciel, pledged continued support for capacity-building for the ASEAN Secretariat in order to undertake increased responsibility and heavier workload in support of ASEAN’s community-building as prescribed by the ASEAN Charter.

Under the ASEAN Charter, all ASEAN Member States will each appoint a Permanent Representative to ASEAN to form a Committee of Permanent Representatives in Jakarta. The Permanent Representatives will work closely with the Secretary-General, the ASEAN Secretariat, and Dialogue Partners’ Ambassadors to ASEAN on a regular basis.