Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh (sixth from the left) and other top diplomats from ASEAN countries pose for a group photo. — VNA/VNS Photo Tiên Minh
KHÁNH HOÀ — Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh on Friday presided over a retreat of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries (AMM Retreat), with the participation of the foreign ministers and the bloc’s Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi.
This was the first meeting of the top ASEAN diplomats this year to discuss the grouping's plans this year, including the building of the community, the bloc’s foreign relations and international and regional issues.
Ministers said the themes and priorities set by Việt Nam for ASEAN 2020 are suitable for the goal of building the ASEAN Community. ASEAN 2020 co-operation will focus on fortifying the grouping’s solidarity and unity. The ministers also agreed to push up co-operation for the protection of the environment, peace, security and gender equity.
Representatives agreed with Việt Nam’s proposal on the action plan of the ASEAN this year.
Regarding foreign relations, they stressed the importance of broadening and deepening ASEAN's external ties. The ASEAN – New Zealand commemorative summit will be held on April 9 right after the 36th ASEAN summit in Đà Nẵng. The foreign ministers agreed to propose ASEAN's top leaders accept the invitation from the US President Donald Trump to a special summit to mark the fifth anniversary of the ASEAN – US strategic partnership to be held in the US in March, and accepted Việt Nam’s proposal on sending the ASEAN Secretary General to inform the UN Security Council on ASEAN – UN co-operation.
The ministers discussed the situation in the East Sea at length. They noted progress in the negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) and expressed concern over land reclamation at sea, especially recent developments, including serious incidents that violated sovereignty in the sea of severed ASEAN members and intensified tension, eroded trust and do not facilitate COC negotiations.
The diplomats reaffirmed the need to boost trust and avoid actions that complicate the situation, towards settling disputes by peaceful means, and to take international law, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as a basis for claims on sovereignty and sovereign right on the waters. They also stressed the need for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) to create an environment of mutual trust.
The ministers said ASEAN would continue supporting efforts to bring peace, stability and respect to the law and acceleration of reconciliation and concord among communities, as well as ensuring sustainable development in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. They agreed to continue supporting and facilitating repatriation and sustainable development there.
Minh thanked the countries for their support, describing it as a manifestation of ASEAN's solidarity and unity. He stressed Việt Nam would do all it can to accomplish the tasks of the ASEAN 2020 Chair and work with the countries for a region of peace, stability and prosperity, for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN. — VNS