Vietnamese Minister of National Defence General Ngô Xuân Lịch (right) shakes hands with Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds at the ASEAN-Australia defence ministers' informal meeting. VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Defence ministers of ASEAN member nations and Australia attended an informal meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Retreat in Hà Nội on Wednesday under the chair of Vietnamese Minister of National Defence General Ngô Xuân Lịch.
Speaking at the event, Lịch said this was the first time both sides have held a meeting to discuss the regional security situation and promote bilateral defence ties.
Australia is a top partner of ASEAN in various areas and has made important contributions to ASEAN-led cooperation mechanisms in the region, he said, adding that ASEAN attaches importance to bolstering ties with Australia, which was specified by an action plan to realise the bilateral strategic partnership.
On defence co-operation within the ASEAN framework, Lịch thanked Australia for its contributions over the past years, especially via groups of experts within the ADMM Plus framework.
The Vietnamese minister hoped that the two sides would discuss ways to step up collaboration in the fields of shared concern and interest.
Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said Australia-ASEAN ties are growing to cope with challenges of the era and reflect ASEAN’s central role.
According to the Australian minister, ASEAN plays an important role in turning the Indo-Pacific into one of the most prosperous regions in the world with continuous successes in dialogue promotion and peaceful settlement of disputes.
At the meeting, ASEAN ministers lauded Australia’s capacity in the fields of training, United Nations peacekeeping missions, and military medicine, as well as its contributions within the ADMM Plus framework, especially its role as co-chair of the ADMM Plus Experts’ Group on Peacekeeping Operations for the 2017-20 period along with Indonesia.
They also expressed full support for Australia’s and Brunei’s role as co-chairs of the ADMM Plus Experts’ Group on Military Medicine for the 2020-23 period, and welcomed Australia’s enhanced co-operation with ASEAN via the ADMM Plus mechanism in the near future.
The ASEAN side also highly valued Australia’s initiative to build the 2020 Vision Statement on Defence Co-operation with ASEAN.
On the sidelines of the 2020 ADMM in Hà Nội on Wednesday, Vietnamese Defence Minister General Ngô Xuân Lịch had bilateral meetings with participating officials.
At the meeting with ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi on Wednesday morning, Lịch said Việt Nam looked forwards to the Secretariat’s support before, during and after meetings of the ADMM and ADMM Plus mechanisms that Việt Nam will host.
Secretary-General Hoi said in his position, he would actively help Việt Nam during its ASEAN chairmanship this year, thereby helping to build a strong ASEAN Community and enhance the bloc’s substantive co-operation in all fields for the sake of peace and security in the region and the world.
The same day Lịch had a meeting with his Cambodian counterpart General Tea Banh.
Both ministers expressed their delight over the fruitful traditional friendship, comprehensive co-operation between the two militaries, and the two countries as a whole.
In the past, bilateral defence co-operation has served as a pillar in Việt Nam-Cambodia ties, with regular exchanges of delegations at all levels, maintenance of cooperation mechanisms, as well as collaboration in human resources training, border management and protection, and search and repatriation of remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts who laid down their lives during war time in Cambodia.
During the meeting with General Chaichan Changmongkol, Deputy Defence Minister of Thailand, the two sides agreed to continue implementing all the co-operation contents in an effective way.
The Thai General spoke highly of the host country’s preparations and the success of the retreat. He expressed support to Việt Nam in the ASEAN chairmanship year and pledged to realise all the contents in the joint statement of the ASEAN defence ministers on co-operation against diseases and epidemics.
Also during the day, Defence Minister Lịch hosted a reception for an Indonesian high-ranking delegation led by Secretary General of Defence Ministry, Vice Admiral Agus Setiadji.
The two sides pledged to continue facilitating all-level visits, improve the efficiency of existing dialogue mechanisms, enhance coordination between the forces, as well as offer mutual support at multilateral forums, especially during military-defence conferences and activities chaired by the Vietnamese Defence Ministry during the ASEAN Year 2020. — VNS