A resolution introduced in the House of Representatives on the eve of a visit to Washington by Asean foreign ministers has underlined the importance of the US' strategic partnership with the 10-member regional grouping.

Introduced on Wednesday by Mr Joaquin Castro and Mrs Ann Wagner, co-chairs of the recently formed Congressional Caucus on Asean, the resolution recognised the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Asean, and the 40th anniversary of US-Asean relations and the "positive outcomes" of engagement. 

It listed Asean nations' "contributions to stability, prosperity, and peace in South-east Asia".

The Asean foreign ministers were scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Saturday.

In a joint statement e-mailed to The Straits Times, Mr Castro said the resolution "recognises the strength of the US-Asean economic and strategic partnership and the importance of increased engagement between the United States and Asean member states".

"Working together, the United States and Asean can address pressing issues like the North Korean threat, maritime disputes, human trafficking, access to education, and food security. Our nations will become safer and more prosperous if we deepen our relationships," he added.

Mrs Wagner, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in the statement that the bipartisan caucus was started "to expand dialogue and engagement with our South-east Asian peers, and we are delighted to reaffirm the special relationship between Asean and the United States".

She added: "From trade to maritime security, from business to human rights, the US-Asean strategic partnership is one of America's most important, and I issue a hearty welcome to the Asean foreign ministers in Washington this week."