|US Secretary of State John Kerry (3-R) shakes hands with Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (2-R) as they arrive on a stage for a photo session prior to attend the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign ministers' meeting at the Myanmar International Convention Center (MICC) in Naypyidaw on August 10, 2014. Myanmar host the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting (AMM) and 21st ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) from August 8 to 10. — AFP/VNA/VNS PHOTO
NAY PYI TAW (VNS) — Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh reiterated Viet Nam's commitment to stay closely engaged with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the successful building of an ASEAN Community by 2015.
At the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM-47), which kicked off yesterday in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, Minh said ASEAN should maintain its central role in promoting regional economic connectivity by enhancing internal strength and deepening intra-bloc linkage. He also stressed the need for ASEAN to effectively realise free trade agreements with partners and speed up negotiations for a regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP).
At the same time, the association should improve its capacity to deal with non-traditional challenges such as maritime security and safety, natural disasters and epidemics, which have become frequent and seriously affect residents of the region, he said.
It was also necessary for ASEAN to shape a long-term vision and strategy, he added.
Regarding the East Sea issue, Minh said developments had been complicated after China illegally positioned its rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
He stressed that this act seriously violated international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and went against the Declaration on the Conduct of Party in the East Sea (DOC).
He underlined the serious consequences of the incident and urged the prevention of similar complicated events. At the same time, he called for measures to ensure the full and effective implementation of the DOC while working toward an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), as well as the strict observance of international law and the UNCLOS.
Minh also underscored the need to settle all disputes through peaceful measures.
During the AMM-47 plenary session, ASEAN foreign ministers and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh focused on the implementation of the DOC and the progress of the ASEAN Community building. They pledged to finish all remaining work so that the ASEAN Community could be established on December 31, 2015. The Community is considered an important foundation for the association to maintain its development in the next decades, helping it continue its central role in regional co-operation processes.
The ministers also stressed the importance of ASEAN's solidarity and common voice and responsibility towards strategic issues in the region, especially those related to peace, stability, security and development.
ASEAN should actively deploy initiatives and hasten the shaping of regional architectures based on international law and available tools and mechanisms, including the ASEAN Charter, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, the Bali Declaration and the DOC, they said.
The ministers agreed that strengthening ties with dialogue countries and partners would optimise the association's central role in shaping regional architecture.
At the AMM-47 retreat session, the foreign ministers shared viewpoints on regional and international matters of mutual concern, including situations in the Korean peninsula, the Middle East and Ukraine.
They also expressed deep concern about the recent tension on the East Sea and emphasised the significance of ensuring peace, stability, security, safety and freedom there. They highlighted the importance of abiding by international law and the UNCLOS, the settlement of disputes through peaceful measures without using or threatening to use force, as well as the full implementation of the DOC.
They also reaffirmed the principles stated in the ASEAN's Six-Point Principles on the East Sea as well as the statement of ASEAN foreign ministers in May, while emphasising the need to build the COC as soon as possible.
Earlier the same day, Le Luong Minh had a meeting with representatives from the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) at which they discussed AICHR's proposal to include human rights issues in all three ASEAN pillars in 2015.
They tabled a number of joint plans of actions and assessed AICHR performance.
On the sidelines of the AMM-47, Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh had a bilateral meeting with Brunei Foreign and Trade Minister Mohamed Bolkiah to seek ways to boost bilateral ties between the two countries.
Minh proposed that Viet Nam and Brunei beef up co-operation in defence-security, culture, education, tourism, labour and agriculture, while stepping up the organisation of the first meeting of the Joint Committee for bilateral co-operation within 2014.
For his part, Mohamed Bolkiah shared Minh's view on the importance of implementing specific measures to bolster bilateral partnership.
The AMM-47 will be followed by a series of meetings with partners, including the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference Plus One (PMC+1), the 15th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting (ASEAN+3), the fourth East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting (EAS FMM-4) and the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-21) and related meetings from August 8-10.
The ASEAN includes ten countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Viet Nam. — VNS