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ASEAN Foreign Ministers to have hectic week

More than 20 meetings of foreign ministers within ASEAN and between ASEAN and partner countries have taken place from August 2-6.

During the meetings, considered among the most important ones of the ten-member grouping in the year, countries have discussed the ASEAN Community building, reviewed and oriented ASEAN’s external relations, and looked into regional and international issues of shared concern.
The 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the 23rd ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting, the 29th ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting, the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty Commission’s meeting and an annual dialogue between ASEAN Foreign Ministers and representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights were convened on August 2.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son headed a Vietnamese delegation to the events.

The countries assessed the implementation of ASEAN’s priorities this year and showed their support for the initiatives raised by Brunei – ASEAN Chair 2021 – to cope with disasters, boost multilateralism and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and promote the identity of the ASEAN Community.

The ministers spent much time debating cooperation in COVID-19 response and post-pandemic recovery. They stressed the need to enhance the exchange of experience with partners in vaccine research, development, production and distribution.

They agreed to continue realising outcomes reaped last year, including the review of the implementation of the ASEAN Charter, the building of the post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision, and strengthening sub-regional cooperation.

The countries reiterated the values of ASEAN-led mechanisms, as well as ASEAN’s centrality in enhancing dialogue and cooperation. They consented to establish a dialogue partnership with the UK and a sectoral partnership with Brazil.

Given complex developments in the East Sea, the ministers affirmed their consistent stance on settling disputes via peaceful measures in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), called on parties to exercise self-restraint, and not to use or threaten to use force, and reiterated the significance of fully and effectively observing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), working towards an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

For the Myanmar issue, the countries said ASEAN wants to help Myanmar overcome difficulties and seek solutions to the present complexity, for people’s interests.

The ministered shared the view on the need to quickly provide humanitarian aid for Myanmar in response to COVID-19, through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management.

Minister Son stressed that solidarity and unity are the foundation for ASEAN’s strength, especially in difficult times, which is clearly demonstrated in the current fight against COVID-19.

Emphasising the importance of vaccines, he suggested ASEAN optimise cooperation opportunities with partners, particularly in the vaccine procurement and transfer of vaccine production technologies.

ASEAN needs to carry forward the role of ASEAN-led mechanisms, he said, proposing a review of operational procedures of these mechanisms to maintain their targets, values and roles.

Son stressed an environment of peace, security and stability is the prerequisite to effectively ward off the pandemic, spur recovery and maintain regional growth.

On August 3, ASEAN foreign ministers will hold meetings with ASEAN partners namely the Republic of Korea, China and Japan./