Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, at a ministerial-level videoconference meeting between ASEAN and the US, Thursday, emphasized that the strategic partnership between both sides should be utilized to optimally handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We emphasize that although each country faces severe challenges at home, if we unite and help one another, the burden will be lighter," she affirmed while delivering a press statement virtually, following the meeting.
At the meeting, with attendees comprising ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and all foreign ministers of ASEAN member countries, Indonesia suggested to forge innovative cooperation, particularly to cater to the demand for medical equipment and medications.
"For the short term, Indonesia reiterates the importance of cooperation in developing vaccines, and once vaccines are available, Indonesia consistently emphasizes vaccine accessibility for developing countries and least developed countries," she noted.
The minister said for the long term, Indonesia believes that future ASEAN-US cooperation should prioritize bolstering the resilience of the health system through the development of a region-wide disease control structure, among others.
Indonesia also proposed the reallocation of funds from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Inclusive Growth in ASEAN through the Innovation program, Trade and E-commerce (IGNITE) and the Partnership for Regional Optimization within the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT).
"Indonesia also emphasizes the importance of strong, shared, and coordinated global leadership in coping with the pandemic and its good impact on the social economy," Marsudi remarked.
The US, as one of ASEAN's strategic partners, has provided a total of US$35.3 million for handling the COVID-19 outbreak in the region.
Specifically for Indonesia, the aid allocation of over $3 million is channeled through the World Health Organization (WHO) and several research institutions in the form of laboratories, supervision, and the supply of medical devices, including personal protective equipment and reagents. (ANTARA)