Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia to intensify co-operation and mutual trust in the interest of each side, as well of the region as a whole.— VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
SYDNEY — Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia to intensify co-operation and mutual trust in the interest of each side, as well of the region as a whole.
He made the appeal while addressing a retreat between leaders of ASEAN and Australia within the framework of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney on Sunday. Phúc was one of the four ASEAN leaders invited to deliver a keynote speech at the retreat.
The leader said ASEAN and Australia should make efforts to build open, transparent, inclusive order in the region, and ensure that regional countries observe international law and respect each other’s interests.
At the same time, they need to maintain economic connectivity and keep doors open to develop prosperously, he stressed, calling on the two sides to effectively implement the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement and quickly conclude negations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
Attention should be paid to innovation, connectivity promotion, support for businesses and improvement of the added value of ASEAN economies and Australia in the global value chain, the PM noted.
He also suggested increasing co-operation programmes targeting people, especially through collaboration in education-training, cultural exchange and people-to-people contacts, so as to create a firm foundation for the ASEAN-Australia relationship in the future.
Pointing to potential risks to regional maritime security, Phúc emphasised the need to abide by international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), saying respect for the law must be a foundation to build trust and preserve regional stability.
Therefore, the imperatives of protecting regional security and the environment, as well as the need for marine scientific research, should be taken into account in maritime partnerships, the leader noted.
He applauded efforts made by Việt Nam and Australia along with the EU in co-chairing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-Sessional Support Group on maritime security for 2018-2020, considering this an active contribution to peace, co-operation and trust building in the region.
Việt Nam welcomes initiatives for peace and connectivity between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific in line with international law, he said.
At the retreat, ASEAN and Australia leaders also discussed strategic regional and international matters of shared concern, including the Korean Peninsula and East Sea (South China Sea) issues.
Meanwhile, at the plenary session of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit the same day, they compared notes on orientations of the ASEAN-Australia strategic partnership with the centre on collaboration in economy and anti-terrorism.
Australia affirmed its support for ASEAN’s central role in an open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture while increasing dialogue mechanisms at levels with the ten-member group on strategic regional issues. Such dialogue mechanisms include the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).
The leaders also agreed to step up trade and investment ties and back the multilateral trade system on the basis of law, along with deepening economic links between ASEAN and Australia.
They pledged to create favourable conditions for businesses, especially small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), support start-ups and promote the digital economy.
ASEAN and Australia reiterated their commitment to pushing negotiations to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement as scheduled.
Regarding affiliation in anti-terrorism, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding on anti-terrorism on Saturday which was deemed a milestone in the joint combat. It features various initiatives and framework agreements covering engineering, drafting an anti-terrorism law, regional dialogues and seminars on electronic evidence, a financial intelligence and ways to tackle online radicalisation.
The two sides also consented to step up co-operation in education, training and people-to-people exchange, particularly within the framework of the New Colombo Plan.
On the sidelines of the summit, PM Phúc met with Cambodian PM Samdech Hun Sen, Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith, Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Malaysian PM Najib Razak, Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Long and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Phúc, his spouse and the high-ranking Vietnamese delegation left Sydney for Việt Nam on Sunday afternoon. — VNS