|Participants at ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting. VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam will take actions to speed up the narrowing of the development gap in ASEAN, especially in enhancing sub-regional cooperation by holding an ASEAN Forum on narrowing development gaps between sub-regions for comprehensive recovery and sustainable development.
The statement was made by Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng at the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (ASEAN SOM) held via video conference on April 7.
Dũng reaffirmed Việt Nam’s support for and commitments to ASEAN’s cooperation priorities and initiatives in 2021.
These priorities and initiatives need to rely on achievements gained by the bloc in 2020, particularly in community building, COVID-19 prevention and control, and post-pandemic recovery.
At the meeting, participating countries also reaffirmed their backing for the initiatives proposed by Brunei, ASEAN Chair in 2021, including promoting multilateralism, improving the effectiveness of the bloc’s humanitarian assistance and emergency response, and sea-based economic cooperation.
In response to COVID-19, they agreed to continue prioritising efforts to control the pandemic, prevent new waves of infection, overcome the consequences of the pandemic and speed up economic recovery.
Accordingly, ASEAN will focus on implementing the Comprehensive Recovery Framework, with the focus on remote areas and the most vulnerable groups, using US$10.5 million from the COVID-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines, contributing more to the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and discussing the establishment of the ASEAN travel corridor. The countries also shared the need to ensure equal access to vaccines and raise their voice against “vaccine nationalism”.
The meeting reviewed ASEAN’s cooperation relations with partners, including proposals to upgrade relations with ASEAN, and highlighted the importance of ensuring the central role as well as the overall external relations of ASEAN.
Regarding regional and international issues, delegates expressed concerns over recent complicated developments in the East Sea, including the threats, coercion and violations of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which affect regional peace and security, run counter to commitments in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and create an unfavourable atmosphere for negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC). They emphasised the need to avoid complicating the situation, promote international law and UNCLOS 1982, continue implementing the DOC fully and effectively, and gradually resume negotiations for an effective and valid COC in conformity with international law and UNCLOS 1982.
The Vietnamese representative suggested ASEAN maintain its solidarity and principled stance, and make efforts to negotiate to build an effective and substantive COC in accordance with international law including the 1982 Convention.
For the Myanmar situation, participants agreed that complicated developments, including increasing violence and human losses, affect not only Myanmar but also cooperation and solidarity, the image and reputation of ASEAN. They stressed the need for ASEAN to continue all efforts to support Myanmar to overcome difficulties.
The Việt Nam SOM head affirmed Việt Nam’s support for ASEAN’s application of methods in approaching the Myanmar situation. Việt Nam will work together with other member countries to actively support Myanmar to overcome current difficulties for the sake of peace, reconciliation and stability in the region, he stated, adding that as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Việt Nam has also informed and updated the council on the bloc’s efforts to assist Myanmar. — VNS