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East Sea Conduct key to ‘regional stability'

Update: June, 20/2013 - 08:35
Four workers died while salvaging a Malaysian oil tanker (in the background) off the coast of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on Tuesday. Viet Nam has encouraged closer links during the rescue of striken vessels. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Linh

HA NOI (VNS)— To establish and enhance regional trust and co-operation as well as ensuring a peaceful and stable East Sea, Viet Nam is keen to encourage closer links during the search and rescue of stricken vessels in the sea.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Quang Vinh stated this yesterday when opening a two-day conference on providing a joined up approach during search and rescue operations which saw around 40 senior government officials and academics from ASEAN countries and China attending.

Vinh highlighted the importance of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) to maintain peace and stability in the region, saying that ASEAN and China had encountered many difficulties and challenges on the road to reaching the DOC in 2002.

ASEAN also adopted the Declaration of the Six-point Principles on the East Sea, and all the countries involved were expecting both parties to start official negotiations soon and move towards a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

The DOC, therefore, was a landmark agreement between ASEAN and China, demonstrating their joint respect for international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the principles stated in the DOC.

The deputy minister stressed that adhering to the DOC and the COC would ensure peace, security, safety and the free movement of shipping, which is essential when building trust in line with the spirit and language of the DOC.

The East Sea region still experiences many complicated scenarios that put many lives at risk, and numerous factors can endanger fishing boats and shipping in general.

For humanitarian and trust building purposes, ASEAN and China needed to discuss and find suitable joint procedures when conducting search and rescue operations.

In 2010 when Viet Nam took over the ASEAN Chair, it proposed an initiative in this field that was applauded by other ASEAN countries. ASEAN's foreign ministers agreed to pass a declaration on cooperation during the Search and Rescue of Persons and Vessels in distress at sea.

The conference was to enable the participants to establish trust by stepping up cooperation during search and rescue operations, which will help to consolidate peace, stability and security in the East Sea. It is especially relevant as several disputes over sovereignty in the East Sea have still not been settled.

It will also study factors that could influence future joint humanitarian programmes in the region and propose specific measures to promote closer links.

The conference is just one of several moves being taken by ASEAN and China to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), which was approved by senior ASEAN and Chinese officials after meeting in Beijing last year. — VNS


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