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Leaders vow to speed work on building ASEAN community

Update: April, 05/2012 - 09:53


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen receives Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during the 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
PHNOM PENH — All ASEAN leaders supported the priorities outlined by Cambodia as current chair, and agreed to work together to accelerate the building of an ASEAN Community by 2015, according to the chairman's statement of the 20th ASEAN Summit that concluded yesterday.

The leaders of the ten-member bloc once again affirmed their strong commitment to an integrated, connected, people-centred and rule-based region.

"We have had substantive, frank and productive discussions during both the plenary and retreat sessions where we reviewed the progress that we have achieved and identify the challenges we have yet to overcome in the implementation of the ASEAN Charter," Hun Sen told reporters at the closing press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.

All ASEAN leaders agreed to adopt two important documents at the Phnom Penh Declaration on ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny and Phnom Penh Agenda on ASEAN Community Building.

"In addition, we reviewed and adopted the ASEAN leaders' Declaration on Drug-Free ASEAN 2015, which would significantly increase the welfare of ASEAN people, especially youth," Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen said as the chairman of ASEAN this year, he requested all the ASEAN leaders consider the Phnom Penh Agenda on ASEAN Community Building which focuses on real challenges ASEAN is currently facing and identifying key measures to realise the ASEAN Community by 2015.

ASEAN leaders also discussed several important issues related to stability and security in the region.

They reaffirmed their collective determination to maintain the centrality and proactive role of ASEAN as the primary driving force in its relations and cooperation with Dialogue Partners and external parties in an evolving regional architecture.

Speaking to Viet Nam News at the end of the summit, outgoing ASEAN General-Secretary Surin Pitsuwan said that among the most important results of this summit was the confidence in the resolution of the issue of Myanmar.

"For the first time, every member state and dialogue partner sent observation teams, which was satisfactory for all of us. From here, it opens up tremendous opportunities for us," he said.

"That's why the call for lifting the sanctions [on Myanmar since the 1990s] is so important; it's connected with the success of ASEAN," said Surin.

On the issue of East Sea, all ASEAN leaders reaffirmed the importance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed in the same city 10 years ago. A move for the eventual realisation of a regional code of conduct (COC) is desired.

Speaking of the COC, Surin said: "I think there's a political will and very strong commitment from both sides [ASEAN and China]. The momentum from the last year is the good sign."

"There is ASEAN collective interest in this East Sea issue. I agree that the emphasis, the attention and the focus may vary from one country to the next, but the important thing is all the ten countries agree that it has to be resolved."

At the 20th ASEAN Summit Retreat, Viet Nam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung tabled many important proposals, focusing on regional issues of common concern. Amongst them were the East Sea issue, sub-regional cooperation and measures to strengthen ASEAN's role when dealing with newly emerging challenges such as natural disasters, climate change and maritime security.

He also suggested that ASEAN put together a declaration on the security of water resources in the region and enhance the bloc's moves to further foreign relations.

According to the Vietnamese Government leader, peace and stability in the East Sea, including maritime security and safety, is a common concern for the entire region and every member country.

All parties concerned should get together to solve the East Sea dispute by coming up with peaceful solutions in accordance with international laws, particularly the UNCLOS, and step up the full implementation of the DOC and the building of the COC, he stressed.

He finished up by saying that the ASEAN Global Dialogue in November 2012 will further enhance cooperation between ASEAN and global financial institutions to deal with emerging economic and financial challenges. — VNS

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