Timeline of the U.S.-Brunei Relationship

The year 2024 marks 40 years of official diplomatic relations between the United States and Brunei, anchored in friendship. Read below to learn more about the milestones we have achieved together.


April 6, 1845

The relationship between the United States and Brunei Darussalam was launched when an American warship, the U.S.S. Constitution, dropped anchor in the Brunei Bay. The historical visit resulted in the two countries eventually forming a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Commerce and Navigation that has been active since 1850. The United States briefly maintained a consulate in Brunei from 1865 until 1867.

January 1, 1984

The nation celebrated as Brunei Darussalam gained its independence from the United Kingdom. On the same day, the United States opened an embassy in the heart of Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. In March 1984, the United States welcomed the opening of Brunei Darussalam’s Embassy in Washington, D.C.

November 29, 1994

Brunei and the United States signed a military and defense cooperation memorandum of understanding. This agreement resulted in joint exercises, training programs, and other forms of military cooperation between the two nations, which is still in effect today.

November 2000

Brunei Darussalam saw its first U.S. Presidential visit when former President Bill Clinton attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

December 2002

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam made his first state visit to the United States and met with former President George W. Bush. The visit further strengthened relations between the two nations including through signing the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), demonstrating the United States’ commitment to develop and promote trade and investment in ASEAN countries including Brunei.

During the same year, former Secretary of State Colin Powell made an official visit to the Sultanate to attend a meeting with members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

September 20, 2011

Brunei Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II Pehin Lim Jock Seng and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Brunei Darussalam – United States Senior Officials Dialogue in Washington, D.C. The dialogue serves to further enhance the bilateral relations of and strategic partnership of the two countries.

October 11, 2011

In an important symbol of America’s commitment to an enduring friendship with the people of Brunei Darussalam, as well as the importance of our bilateral relationship with the Government of Brunei Darussalam, the United States dedicated its new Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan. U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, dedicated the facility in conjunction with guest of honor Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Brunei Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II.

September 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton embarked on a six-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific to promote U.S.-ASEAN cooperation. During her visit to Brunei, the Secretary launched the U.S.-Brunei English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN, dined with the Royal Family at the Royal Palace Istana Nurul Iman, and held bilateral meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed.

March 2013

President Barack Obama welcomed His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam to the White House during an official visit to Washington D.C. where both leaders expressed their countries’ commitment to fostering a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region. During the visit, His Majesty also met with Secretary of State John Kerry and then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to discuss further matters regarding the bilateral partnerships.

Later that year, Secretary of State John Kerry made two trips to Brunei to participate in several ministerial and leader’s-level summits during Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN Chairmanship year.

October 2014

The first member of the U.S. armed forces graduated from the Brunei Command and Staff College, and the United States has enrolled a student each year since.

November 30, 2015

Brunei and U.S. officials participated in the U.S.-Brunei High Level Officials Meeting in London, United Kingdom as part of the Senior Officials Dialogue launched in 2011. The officials how the United States and Brunei can further enhance their bilateral relationship covering security and defense, trade and economics, and regional cooperation.

February 15-16, 2016

President Obama hosted His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and leaders from across ASEAN for the U.S.-ASEAN Special Leaders’ Summit in Sunnylands, California. This Special U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Summit was the first ever to be held in the United States and leaders took the opportunity to reaffirm the key principles that guide our cooperation.

August 11-12, 2016

Shaarik H. Zafar, U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities, visited Brunei and had audiences with His Majesty the Sultan and the State Mufti, in addition to public outreach engagements.

June 12, 2018

The United States and Brunei Darussalam held their Third Senior Officials’ Dialogue in Washington, DC. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton led the U.S. delegation. Bruneian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II Dato Seri Paduka Erywan Yusof led the Brunei delegation.

May 3, 2021

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Bruneian Foreign Minister II Dato Erywan Yusof on the margins of the G7 Foreign Ministerial in London. Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister II Erywan reaffirmed our countries’ longstanding friendship and cooperation and discussed issues of shared concern and priority, including economic ties, regional security, and human rights.

March 5-14, 2023

His Royal Highness Prince Mateen visited the U.S. West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare Units and Special Forces Group for a series of trainings and flew with TOPGUN pilots.

November 15-17, 2023

President Biden hosted His Majesty the Sultan and His Royal Highness Prince Mateen for the 2023 APEC Leaders’ Summit in San Francisco, California.