ASEAN FMs agreed to promote cooperation while coping with COVID-19 pandemic

September 10, 2020 - 08:38

Foreign ministers on Wednesday from the Association of Southeast Asia Nations have agreed to promote cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare a post-pandemic recovery plan.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister  Phạm Bình Minh and foreign ministers of ASEAN countries join the online meeting. VNA/VNS  Photo Lâm Khánh

HÀ NỘI —  Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asia Nations have agreed to promote cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare a post-pandemic recovery plan.

They made the statement at the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM-53) which is held online due to coronavirus from Wednesday to Saturday.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, ASEAN would actively strengthen cooperation, maintaining a community building momentum as well as effectively respond to the pandemic, they said.

Given the increasing upheavals in world, ASEAN reaffirmed its strong commitment to maintain a Southeast Asia region of peace, stability, security and neutral in which international law is highly respected.

ASEAN foreign ministers also pledged to continue their efforts to implement initiatives and priorities approved upon the 2020 ASEAN chairmanship.

The ministers also adopted the five-year-work plan (2021-2025) of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and its priorities for the year 2021.

Regarding external relations, they unanimously recommended to increase the frequency of the ASEAN - Australia Summit from every two years to an annual event, granting development partnership status in Israel and France, and continuing to consider the proposals to become a full dialogue partner of ASEAN.

The ministers also approved measures to improve the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) processes and working methods.

They agreed that ASEAN should uphold a persistent stance which urges parties to continue to restrain, not militarise and not to use or threaten the use of force. All disputes should be settled peacefully, they said, underlining the need to uphold international law, especially Convention on the Law of the Sea.

ASEAN countries would continue to support Myanmar in resolving the humanitarian challenges relate to Rakhine State, the ministers said.

ASEAN nations reaffirmed its stance in favour of peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons, calling on involved parties to resume dialogue.

It was also agreed that ASEAN should cooperate in a joint effort in dealing with non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, transnational crime, maritime security and safety, climate change and epidemics.

In his welcoming remarks at the meeting’s opening ceremony, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc called for solidarity among ASEAN members to deal with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a complicated geopolitical and economic environment.

PM Phúc suggested ASEAN foreign ministers promote a number of priorities including continuing upholding ASEAN’s solidarity and unity in order to successfully realise the blueprints for the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

It was necessary to raise the effectiveness of the ASEAN Charter implementation and that of the ASEAN sectoral bodies. This would enable countries to work out the ASEAN Vision beyond 2025.

Efforts should be invested to control COVID-19 and promote a sustained recovery, he said.

He proposed the COVID-19 Response Fund should be well utilised and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies should be operationalised so as to raise ASEAN’s response capacity.

PM Phúc underlined the need to help people and businesses restore production and return their normal in order to speed up economic recovery.

Efforts should also be made to facilitate trade and investment, fix the disrupted supply chain, enhance connectivity and provide mutual support to bridge the development gaps between the sub regions in ASEAN, including the Mekong, he said.

The PM also talked of need to capitalise on ASEAN centrality in advancing dialogue, cooperation and confidence building in the region.

He said: “Cohesive and responsive, along with proactive and responsible, have become a brand of ASEAN, which enabled us to stand hand-in-hand in the face of immense challenges and keep forging ahead.”

Addressing the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phạm Bình Minh, spoke highly of the ASEAN bloc which is dynamic in action, flexible in response and creative in cooperation.

He praised the ASEAN Community, saying that with the spirit of “from vision to action”, ASEAN has gradually taken shape, laying the significant foundation for the building process, he said.

“Entering its 6th decade, ASEAN is now speeding up its community building while maximising its role and status in the region and actively contributing to the joint efforts for peace, stability and development of the international community.”

On the same day, the deputy PM Minh chaired the meeting of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Commission, the 27th ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) and Special Session of the ACC on sub-regional development. The 21st ASEAN Plus Three Forein Ministers’Meeting, meeting between foreign ministers of ASEAN with counterpart from China, the Republic of Korea and Japan and 10th East Asia Summit also held on Wednesday. — VNS