|ASEAN Leaders' meeting held at the headquarters of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday. Joining the meeting are leaders of nine ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Việt Nam, Indonesia, and leader of the Myanmar military Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang|
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính requested ASEAN member states to closely coordinate with Việt Nam at United Nations' forums to together "mobilise international partners' support for ASEAN’s efforts" in approaching and finding "suitable solutions" for Myanmar.
He made the statement at the Leaders' Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations held on Saturday afternoon at the headquarters of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the invitation of Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, who is the Chair of ASEAN in 2021.
This is the first face-to-face meeting ASEAN has held in 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting the grouping's deep concerns over the Myanmar situation and determination to be of help. The meeting was also the first coordinated international engagement to address the crisis in Myanmar.
Sharing other ASEAN leaders' opinions with regards to Myanmar and the role of ASEAN, PM Chính affirmed that in the capacity as the non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and currently the President of the council in April this year, Việt Nam has been making efforts to seek "appropriate measures" to help Myanmar.
The discussions surrounding Myanmar took up the majority of the session on international and regional issues of concern. Myanmar’s representative to the meeting, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, has briefed ASEAN leaders on the situation in Myanmar in recent times. ASEAN leaders have all expressed concern over the escalating situation in Myanmar and the worsening impacts on the people in the country, asking that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence, to enable solutions to be found for the future of Myanmar.
ASEAN leaders agreed that ASEAN should utilise its role and existing mechanisms to support Myanmar, in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, including sending ASEAN's representatives to Myanmar to study the situation, contact all stakeholders, propose approaches and measures to promote dialogue and reconciliation.
The Chairman’s Statement on the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting released later in the day included a "five-point consensus", which are "immediate cessation of violence”; constructive dialogue among all parties to enable a peaceful solution "in the interests of the people”; a special envoy of the ASEAN Chair will facilitate mediation of the dialogue; ASEAN will provide humanitarian assistance efforts through the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Centre (AHA); and that the "special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned."
Earlier in the day, on the sidelines of the summit, Vietnamese foreign minister Bùi Thanh Sơn said he has had a "productive discussion" with the UN Special Envoy of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener regarding "the situation in Myanmar and the role ASEAN along with the international community can play to promote dialogue and facilitate a peaceful solution to the issue," he wrote on Twitter.
As the only ASEAN member in the UNSC, Việt Nam encourages "balanced and comprehensive discussions" on the Myanmar situation, he added.
Solidarity and unity
At the meeting, ASEAN leaders also discussed cooperation to build the ASEAN Community. They noted that the region is facing myriad challenges threatening to undermine the peace, stability, and development of countries and the lives of the people, and ASEAN – more than ever – need to promote solidarity, unity, and mutual support to overcome the difficulties and maintain the central role, prestige, and reputation of the bloc.
One of the highest priorities of ASEAN at the moment is to deploy the Implementation Plan of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework in a timely manner.
Member states agreed to continue to implement the COVID-19 initiatives approved in 2020, during the year of Việt Nam's chairmanship of the bloc, especially completing the plan to draw from the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines, to help people and enterprises resume stable livelihoods, production and business activities.
Countries expressed their high support for the initiative to strengthen ASEAN's synergy in response to natural disasters, namely the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters, or ASEAN SHIELD, proposed by 2021 ASEAN Chair Brunei.
Recognising the importance of ASEAN's relations with its partners, ASEAN leaders agreed to continue paying attention to promoting and deepening the effective, substantive and balanced dialogue and cooperation with its partners, on the basis of ASEAN fundamental principles and ensuring the promotion of ASEAN's centrality. The Leaders expressed their support for proposals to strengthen ASEAN relations with major partners such as China, Australia, the US and the UK. — VNS