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ASEAN enhances defence partnerships with US, India

Minister of National Defence Gen. Phan Van Giang attended the ASEAN - US and ASEAN - India defence ministers’ informal meetings in Seam Reap, Cambodia, on November 22.

At the meeting with ASEAN ministers, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin reaffirmed his country’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region on the basis of respect for countries’ independence and sovereignty, and for international law.

Heads of the ASEAN delegations welcomed the US’s active participation in ASEAN-led cooperation mechanisms, especially the ASEAN Decence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

Applauding the US’s active efforts in defence cooperation with the bloc, they called on this country to continue actively taking part in and contributing to ASEAN-chaired mechanisms and frameworks, and commit to supporting the group’s solidarity, unity, and centrality.

Speaking at the other meeting, Indian Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh said India always respects ASEAN’s centrality and has actively participated in ASEAN-led mechanisms like the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Its “Act East” policy is a demonstration of its strong commitment to promoting relations with the bloc.

He also proposed several cooperation initiatives for ASEAN women’s increased presence in United Nations peacekeeping operations and response to marine plastic pollution.  

The ASEAN officials highly valued India’s active and responsible engagement in ASEAN-led activities, especially the ADMM+ and expert working groups, helping build up trust and improve the coordination capacity and capabilities of ASEAN countries. They also welcomed and voiced support for the India-proposed initiatives.

Highly evaluating India’s meaningful proposals, Giang held that the first informal meeting between ASEAN and Indian defence ministers was a good chance to discuss issues of common concern and bolster bilateral defence cooperation.

ASEAN’s agreement in principle to organise the first ASEAN - India maritime exercise reflects the bloc’s support for India’s proposals, he noted.

Following the informal sessions, Minister of National Defence Phan Van Giang had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Indonesia, the US, the Republic of Korea, and India./.