JAKARTA (Xinhua) – The United States reiterates its active support for ASEAN and its member states in the non- proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as in nuclear safety, a press statement said here on Monday.

The message came from Thomas Countryman, assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at US Department of State during his courtesy call on Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, at the ASEAN Secretariat on Monday.

The support, according to Countryman, is part of the hundreds of activities being undertaken by various US agencies to follow up on US President Barack Obama remarks in Prague on April 5, 2009, in which he held out the hope of a “world without nuclear weapons” and his vision on how to achieve this noble goal.

He confirmed that Obama intends to raise the topics of nonproliferation, disaster relief and maritime security, among others, at the upcoming 6th East Asia Summit in Bali next month.

Countryman said the United States is keen to work with ASEAN and its member states in nuclear security, nuclear safety, nuclear energy and capacity-building in these areas to ensure the highest safeguards and standards.

In his opinion, ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat can play an important role to supplement the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), particularly as a clearing house of information and focal point of contact.

Surin welcomed the US support and agreed with Countryman that ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat have an important role to play in these crucial 21st century issues of international interest.

He noted that ASEAN is committed to keep Southeast Asia a nuclear weapon-free zone, which is also free of all other weapons of mass destruction, as stipulated in the ASEAN Charter.

“These are important issues about which ASEAN and its member states require technical education and capacity-building support,” noted Surin.

Surin also urged the United States, through Countryman, to support ASEAN’s upcoming third resolution in the UN General Assembly on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ). ASEAN had its first two resolutions adopted in the UN General Assembly in 2007 and 2009 to raise the profiles of SEANWFZ and ASEAN’s contribution to nonproliferation.