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33rd ASEAN Summit opens with message of multilateralism

Update: November, 14/2018 - 01:00
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (fourth, from left) and other heads of states of ASEAN member countries posed for a group photo at the 33rd ASEAN Summit which opened yesterday in Singapore. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, together with other leaders from ASEAN member countries, yesterday attended the plenary session of the ongoing 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

In his opening address, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long of the host country raised important issues that Southeast Asian countries would need to focus on: the need to build a peaceful, stable and rule-based region, sustaining the economic dynamism of ASEAN, and strengthening the bloc’s capacity to effectively ensure regional security and stability.

ASEAN would continue to collaborate with partners to address challenges facing an interdependent and interconnected world, PM Lee said.

"We are determined to maintain an open, inclusive and ASEAN-centric regional architecture," the Singaporean leader added.

ASEAN leaders, at the event, shared the view that ASEAN unity and centrality would need to be further consolidated if the regional bloc is to deal with the complicated developments at both the regional and global level, including issues within ASEAN itself.

Member countries agreed that ASEAN needs to make an effort to facilitate dialogue, co-operation and trust-building, with the immediate task at hand including the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea between ASEAN and China.

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister of Việt Nam Nguyễn Xuân Phúc expressed his appreciation for the positive achievements ASEAN has made under the chairmanship of Singapore and thanked Singaporean PM Lee for his contributions.

PM Phúc stressed that in the coming years, self-reliance and innovation must continue to be pursued by the bloc, with regional unity being the decisive factor in the actions of the grouping.

The Vietnamese Government leader also urged ASEAN members to deepen co-operation and expand dialogues to build trust, uphold international law and develop support for multilateralism.

PM Phúc also reiterated Việt Nam’s initiatives on a regional digital platform, a cross-ASEAN mobile network, establishing the ASEAN Technology University and a regional disaster alert system.

During his speech, the Vietnamese leader called the recent incidents and ongoing developments in the South China Sea “a grave concern for countries in the region” as unilateral moves could lead to heightened risk of confrontation.

He emphasised the principles agreed upon by ASEAN, which involve respecting international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), in peacefully settling disputes, building trust and developing “a working, practical Code of Conduct,” and following through with commitments on non-militarisation and refraining from use of violence or threats of violence.

The Vietnamese PM has also expressed his support for ASEAN playing an active role in helping Myanmar address humanitarian issues in Rakhine state as well as efforts to denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

At the end of the meeting, ASEAN leaders pledged their support for Thailand, who will hold the grouping’s chairmanship for the year 2019. — VNS

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