PHNOM PENH — Discussions on ways to speed up regional integration and maintain ASEAN as the centrepiece of regional political and trade architecture are on top of the agenda at the 20th ASEAN Summit.
|Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (fourth from left) joins leaders at the 20th ASEAN Summit yesterday in Phnom Penh. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
The two-day summit, which convened yesterday at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, is being attended by leaders from the 10 member nations.
This year's theme "One community, one destiny" expresses the bloc's commitment to continue implementing the construction of the ASEAN community.
It is expected that the community, founded upon the pillars of security, economics and culture, will be fully established by 2015.
In his opening speech, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said ASEAN was facing some challenges.
Among them, he listed, were global economic uncertainties, the European debt crisis and high prices for crude oil, adding that these challenges needed more regional co-operation.
Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that Viet Nam fully agreed with this year's theme which served as a basis for ASEAN to co-operate closely.
He urged member countries to work on effective measures to realise the goal of building the ASEAN community, and boost efforts towards a united ASEAN and subregional co-operation programmes. All these were aimed at turning ASEAN into a common market and a synchronic, sustainable and developed production space which ensured the member countries' effective co-operation in agricultural production and food security.
Dung suggested that the countries should also focus on implementing the comprehensive plan on building the ASEAN Political and Security Community and other current non-traditional co-operation mechanisms.
He added that it was necessary for members to create favourable conditions for their counterparts to participate in issues related to peace and security in the region.
Asked by the Viet Nam News on the progress towards transforming ASEAN into one single community in less than three years, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said: "The road to the ASEAN Community in 2015 is on track. The leaders have called for doubling of efforts by all mechanisms and all sectoral bodies of ASEAN in order to move forward."
Pitsuwan told reporters yesterday that ASEAN foreign ministers extensively spoke on the East Sea during their meeting. "They want to keep the momentum going to put the legally binding Code of Conduct as soon as possible."
The leaders also discussed the strategies to ensure ASEAN's growth was balanced and that all member states could benefit.
Hun Sen said narrowing the huge development gap was not only a pre-condition for ensuring ASEAN competitiveness and reducing poverty but also for helping ASEAN achieve real regional integration and promoting its centrality in broader regional and world affairs.
ASEAN leaders will use the summit as a venue to discuss measures to deepen relationships with the bloc's partners and ways to maintain the strategic position of ASEAN as a centrepiece in the still-forming regional architecture while keeping the balance in relations with major powers.
On the sidelines
On the sidelines of the summit, Dung met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The two expressed their pleasure at the development of relations between the two countries in recent times, and agreed that they would continue to create favourable conditions for each other in trade and investment.
The two sides said they would sign agreements in the fields of hygiene and quarantine of animals and vegetation to boost trade.
They said that it was necessary for the two countries to consolidate their common stance on the East Sea to boost peace, stability, security and safety in regional maritime, and settle any disputes among the parties concerned in a peaceful manner based on international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, while working towards building a Code of Conduct in the East Sea.
On the same day, head of the Government Office, Minister Vu Duc Dam met Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister cum Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers Sok An.
The two sides reached an agreement to co-operate with relevant agencies to implement agreements signed by the two governments. — VNS