ASEAN, US to strengthen capacity in response to new waves of COVID-19

August 06, 2020 - 07:32
ASEAN and the US agreed to strengthen capacity to cope with new waves of COVID-19 infection and minimise the pandemic’s impacts at the virtual 33rd ASEAN-US Dialogue on Wednesday.


US Assistant Secretary of State David R. Stilwell delivers a speech at the teleconference. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — ASEAN and the US agreed to strengthen capacity to cope with new waves of COVID-19 infection and minimise the pandemic’s impacts at the virtual 33rd ASEAN-US Dialogue on Wednesday.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyễn Quốc Dũng attended the meeting.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Stilwell said the US has so far offered about US$87 million in assistance to ASEAN countries to combat COVID-19, pledging the US's commitment to helping ASEAN improve disease prevention and response capacity including the implementation of the ASEAN-US Health Futures Initiative and human resource training.

Representatives of ASEAN countries welcomed the US’s timely financial support in containing the virus and hoped the US would continue to support and contribute to ASEAN's initiatives on the COVID-19 response fund and regional reserve of emergency medical supplies.

Stilwell, the US diplomat, said the US always attaches importance to relations with ASEAN and supports ASEAN in playing a central role in the regional structure. The US highly appreciates Việt Nam, as ASEAN Chair, in co-ordinating and guiding ASEAN to overcome difficulties and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as efforts to continue promoting the bloc’s co-operation and development orientations.

At the teleconference, the two sides agreed to continue deepening the strategic partnership and co-operation within the framework of existing programmes and initiatives including the US-ASEAN Trade and Investment Arrangement, US-ASEAN Connect Initiative, US-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership, and Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative, among others.

ASEAN agreed to work with the US to complete the implementation of the ASEAN-US Action Plan for 2016-20 period and soon adopt the bilateral co-operation action plan for 2021-25.

Deputy Minister Dũng, also Chair of Việt Nam's ASEAN Senior Officials' Meeting, said amid the evolving pandemic, ASEAN has promoted the spirit of ‘Cohesive and Responsive’, as well as promoted solidarity, unity and the efforts of the whole community to overcome challenges.

ASEAN welcomes and will create favourable conditions for US businesses and investors operating in ASEAN, he said.

He also welcomed the US’s proposal to build the Mekong-US Partnership as well as the US’s support for the promotion and harmonisation of Mekong sub-regional development efforts.

The Vietnamese official said countries need to promote dialogue, strengthen trust and accountability to build the South China Sea (called East Sea by Việt Nam) into a region of peace, friendship and co-operation.

Deputy Minister Dũng reiterated ASEAN's principle of ensuring peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea; urging parties to refrain from taking actions that complicate the situation, avoid militarisation and settle disputes by peaceful measures in line with international laws including1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The principle was agreed by ASEAN leaders at the 36th ASEAN Summit held in June.

It called on countries to continue to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and soon resume negotiations to finalise the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. — VNS