|ASEAN leaders pose for a photograph at the opening ceremony of the 23rd ASEAN Summit, which kicked off in Brunei yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (VNS)— The 23rd ASEAN Summit kicked off in Brunei yesterday, bringing the region's leaders into close quarters as they discussed their shared goals for the region.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung led the Vietnamese delegation attending the regional summit which focused on establishing the ASEAN Community by 2015 as well as determining shared goals for the association beyond 2015.
In his opening speech, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah stressed that ASEAN had only two more years to firmly establish the ASEAN Community on the three pillars of politics-security, culture-society and economics.
The ASEAN leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern, including regional structure, as well as working on how to expand and deepen relationships between the member states.
In his remarks at the summit, Prime Minister Dung highlighted the need to build a united and strong ASEAN Community and to promote the bloc's central role in ensuring peace, security, prosperity and development in the region.
At the end of the 23rd ASEAN Summit, leaders approved many important statements on boosting co-operation in social security, young entrepreneurs, natural disaster control and non-infectious disease prevention.
East Sea commitment
Regarding the East Sea issue, the leaders affirmed the need to solve all disputes by peaceful means with respect for international law - especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
They agreed to push the implementation of initiatives including the setting up of a hotline for search and rescue activities at sea.
They stressed the importance of ensuring peace, stability and maritime security and safety at sea by strictly implementing the bloc's commitment to the Declaration on Six-point Principles on the East Sea, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the Joint Statement of the ASEAN-China Summit.
They applauded the first official consultation between ASEAN and China at a senior official level and pointed to the establishment of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) as an important first step towards maintaining stability in the area, adding that mutual respect between all parties involved was important for security in the region.
In terms of regional and East Sea issues, PM Dung said all parties concerned need to settle disputes by peaceful means, exercise self-restraint, refrain from the use of force, observe international law, the 1982 UNCLOS, fully and effectively implement DOC and promote the formulation of COC".
At the 16th ASEAN-Japan Summit yesterday,Dung called on ASEAN and Japan to prioritise strengthening economic linkages and narrowing the development gap.
He proposed further Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) co-operation in various areas ranging from education and human resources development to economics, trade and investment, with a view to doubling two-way trade and investment by 2020.
The Vietnamese leader also urged ASEAN and Japan to increase coordination in coping with regional and global challenges such as terrorism, cross-border crimes, natural disasters, food and energy security, climate change, and maritime security and safety.
Attending the 16th ASEAN – RoK Summit the same day, Dung urged ASEAN and the Republic of Korea (RoK) to enhance economic, trade and investment links via utilising opportunities offered by the ASEAN – RoK free trade agreement.
The two sides should work with other partners to step up negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and continue to implement the 2011-15 Action Plan on the ASEAN – RoK Strategic Partnership.
Dung also laid emphasis on political-security co-operation including maritime security, non-traditional security and energy and food security.
Speaking at the 16th ASEAN-China summit the same day, Dung proposed major orientations for lifting the ASEAN-China strategic partnership to greater heights.
He urged accelerating economic, trade and investment co-operation and connectivity by maximising the role and effectiveness of existing mechanisms.
The PM said ASEAN and China share common aspirations and interests in maintaining peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea.
Addressing the first ASEAN-US summit the same day, Dung said the two sides should give high priority to enhancing economic, trade and investment co-operation and continue effectively implementing the working plan on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
He asked the US to continue providing assistance to the Mekong Sub-region development in the framework of the Lower Mekong Initiative.
He appealed for the US' continued support of ASEAN's efforts in promoting the serious implementation of the ASEAN Six-Point Principles Statement on the East Sea, the DOC and commitments as specified in the Joint Declaration of the ASEAN – China Summit to soon achieve the COC in the East Sea .
Dung and Myanmar President U Thein Sein discussed measures to further boost bilateral relations during a meeting on the sidelines of the 23rd ASEAN Summit.
Dung suggested the two sides continue maintaining delegations and people-to-people exchanges in order to strengthen mutual understanding and trust.
The PM said he hoped that Myanmar would continue to facilitate Vietnamese businesses' operations in the country, thus increasing two-way trade.
For his part, U Thein Sein said his country wanted to foster cooperation with Viet Nam in all fields, especially economics, trade, investment and agriculture. — VNS