MANILA — United States President Donald Trump on Monday vowed to promote a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region at the 40th US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

During his opening statement, Trump said since the US elections in November 2016, America has been “moving ahead really brilliantly."

“We have the highest stock market we've ever had, we have the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, the value of stock has risen at 5.5 trillion dollars, and companies are moving into the United States, a lot of companies are moving, they want to be there," said Trump. 

Trump stressed that these developments and improvements have “bode very well” with the Southeast Asian region.

“We want our partners in the region to be strong, independent and prosperous, in control of their destinies and satellites to no one,” he said. “These are the principles behind our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the US-ASEAN cooperation.

In his speech at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay CIty, Trump congratulated President Rodrigo Duterte for his “success” as ASEAN chairman this year, during what he described as “very critical moment in time and in the association’s history.”

He also thanked the leader for the hospitality he extended during the special gala dinner for leaders participating in the meetings. 

“Rodrigo, I would like to commend you on your success as ASEAN chair,” he said. “I wanted to thank you for your incredible hospitality and the show last night, the talent at that show I assume mostly from the Philippines was fantastic, and you are fantastic, also very much from the Philippines," Trump said. 

He also congratulated the regional bloc for promoting peace, prosperity and stability in Southeast Asia and in the broader Indo-Pacific region.

“For five decades, this organization has brought together a vital assembly of nations to build consensus on critical issues facing the region and the world.  You have created a forum for all nations with a stake in the Indo-Pacific to listen, learn and develop solutions to common challenges thru strategic dialogue," he stressed.

The American leader said that US will remain committed to ASEAN’s central role as a regional forum for total cooperation.

“This diplomatic partnership advances the security and prosperity of the American people and the people of all Indo-Pacific nations,” Trump said. (PNA)