|PM Nguyen Tan Dung (second from left) greets foreign delegations to a banquet yesterday to show Viet Nam's gratitude to other countries for their support in the establishment of the ASEAN Community. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam
HA NOI (VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung hosted a banquet yesterday to show Viet Nam's gratitude to other countries for their support in the historic establishment of the ASEAN Community (AC).
Top Vietnamese leaders, ambassadors and representatives of international organisations were invited to the banquet last night to celebrate the beginning of 2016 - the first year the AC was officially launched on December 31, 2015.
"Viet Nam and other Southeast Asian countries will walk into the year 2016 as members of a common AC family that was built on the three pillars of political-security, economic and cultural-social," said PM Dung in his speech.
The establishment of the AC was part of the region's natural development thanks to the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over nearly half a century since the day it was founded, he said.
Seeing ASEAN as a strategic priority, Viet Nam would continue to strengthen its co-operation with other members to develop the AC, Dung said.
He expressed hope that ambassadors and representatives of international organisations would act as "bridges to connect your home countries with Viet Nam and the AC".
Moroccan Ambassador El Houcine Fardani, on behalf of the diplomatic delegations, said the establishment of the AC was a major milestone towards regional connectivity, helping to create a giant market of 600 million people and total GDP worth more than US$2.6 trillion.
He congratulated all ASEAN members for the achievement and expressed the belief that it would help promote regional co-operation for the sake of peace, stability and prosperity.
East Sea dispute
"We take great pride in this particular success, but are also deeply aware that the situation in the region is becoming more complicated, especially in the East Sea (South China Sea)," Dung said.
"Viet Nam is determined to protect its sovereignty and rightful interests but also perseveres with peaceful solutions based on international law to resolve disputes and disagreements," the PM said.
Viet Nam would do its best to maintain peace in the East Sea and the region, Dung said, calling on the international community to have "strong voices and actions to support the efforts of Viet Nam and ASEAN" regarding the issue.
Viet Nam's latest move regarding the boiling East Sea dispute, which recently sparked increasing tensions between China and a number of ASEAN members – including Viet Nam, was the country's strong objection to China conducting 46 flights early this month that violated Viet Nam's sovereignty.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh also protested twice this month against the landing of Chinese civilian airliners at an illegally-built airport on Chu Thap (Fiery Cross) Island in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago. — VNS