U.S. President Joe Biden hosted Southeast Asian leaders in Washington on Friday and hailed a new era in relations.
While Russia's invasion of Ukraine was on the agenda of the two-day summit, Biden wanted to show that Washington remains focused on the Indo-Pacific region and the long-term challenge of its main competitor, China.
"If you look around the world, all the challenges we are facing, the ASEAN/US partnership is critical to meeting the moment we find ourselves in history right now."
It was the first time leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had gathered as a group in Washington, and it's their first meeting hosted by a U.S. president since 2016.
During the summit, Biden's administration promised $150 million in initiatives for the region, ranging from infrastructure to security, pandemic preparedness and clean energy.
The two sides also committed to deepening their relationship in a joint 28-point "vision statement".
In her speech, Vice President Kamala Harris said the U.S. would be in the region for generations.
She also stressed the need to maintain freedom of the seas, which the U.S. has said is challenged by China.
Among the new commitments from the U.S. are plans to deploy a Coast Guard vessel to the region.
"The United States and ASEAN have shared a vision for this region. And together we will guard against threats to international rules and norms. To that end, one of the main topics of our lunch will be maritime security. We stand with our allies and partners in defending the maritimes rules-based order which includes freedom of navigation and international law."
Neither Harris nor Biden mentioned China by name.
While ASEAN countries share many U.S. concerns about China's assertiveness, they remain cautious due to their strong economic ties with the country.