|ASEAN foreign ministers pose for a group photo during the event, the first in-person gathering of the ASEAN top diplomats after COVID-19. — Photo baoquocte.vn|
PHNOM PENH — Foreign ministers of ASEAN member countries emphasised regional cooperation in vaccine research and production, and health system improvement at a ministerial level meeting on Wednesday in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh.
During the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-55) which opened on the same day in Cambodia – the Chair of ASEAN 2022, the officials also discussed the bloc connectivity, narrowing the development gap, maritime cooperation along with issues such as climate change, food security and energy.
The ministers agreed that ASEAN should promote its responsibilities, maintain solidarity, act in unity and react flexibly in all situations.
Regarding international cooperation, the ASEAN top diplomats emphasised that the bloc needs to take a balanced approach, have a common voice, effectively promote ASEAN-led mechanisms, dialogue, and raise trust and compliance with international laws.
Expressing their deep concern about the situation in Myanmar, the ministers welcomed and supported the efforts of the ASEAN Chair and the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair in supporting the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.
They also discussed solutions for the bloc to participate effectively and build a favourable environment for dialogue in Myanmar.
The ASEAN ministers discussed a number of emerging issues in the region, especially new developments in the East Sea, major power competition, and conflicts in Ukraine and the Korean peninsula.
They called on relevant parties to exercise restraint, avoid actions that complicate the situation, respect international law, and the principles of documents including the United Nations Charter, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.
The ASEAN diplomats also witnessed the signing of TAC of Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
Sharing his views on maintaining ASEAN's solidarity and balance, Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn encouraged countries to stick with the common stance on the East Sea, striving to maintain a favourable environment for an effective and efficient Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC) in accordance with international law, the UNCLOS 1982.
He also reaffirmed Việt Nam’s consistent stance on international and regional issues such as the conflict in Ukraine, major power competition and the situation in Myanmar.
Foreign ministers of ASEAN countries and their partners will attend the ASEAN+1 and ASEAN+3 meetings on Thursday.
Việt Nam and ASEAN’s partners
On the same day, Minister Sơn met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng, and British Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East Amanda Milling.
The two ministers of Việt Nam and New Zealand agreed to strengthen the exchange of delegations and implement annual mechanisms; bringing the average annual trade growth to about 20 per cent while restoring cooperation in areas such as education, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges which had been affected by COVID-19.
Minister Sơn expressed his gratitude for New Zealand’s support of NZ$2 million for Việt Nam’s recovery.
Minister Mahuta affirmed that New Zealand will maintain ODA and scholarships for Việt Nam and strengthen cooperation in the Mekong region.
She also invited her Vietnamese counterpart to visit New Zealand and co-chair the first foreign ministers' meeting.
During the meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Sơn suggested the two sides strengthen cooperation in regional mechanisms.
He expressed his hope that Canada will support Việt Nam in climate change adaptation, and increase investment in the country.
Mentioning the 50th anniversary of Việt Nam-Canada relation, the two sides agreed to implement many activities including increasing high-level exchanges, bilateral dialogue mechanism implementation, and effective implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
They also discussed solutions to support Canada to participate effectively in the region’s cooperation.
At the meeting with his UK counterpart, the two ministers agreed to increase the exchange of high-level delegations, step up cooperation in climate change response, further promote trade and investment exchanges, and effectively implement the UK-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) towards the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relation in 2023.
Minister Sơn suggested the UK support his country to establish a fair energy transition partnership with the G7; support the country in green finance, technology transfer, and human resource development; and share management experience.
He said he expects British businesses to invest more in Việt Nam, especially in renewable energy, banking and finance, pharmaceuticals, information technology, start-ups, innovation, and infrastructure development.
The UK’s Minister Milling agreed that these would be priority areas for cooperation in the near future. — VNS