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ASEAN leaders talk global, regional issues at retreat session

 Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) discussed many international and regional issues at a retreat session within the framework of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 23.

They voiced their concern about the possible impacts of the US-China trade war and emphasised the need for ASEAN to enhance solidarity and consensus, and jointly devise appropriate measures to minimize negative impacts while effectively adapting to the new context.

Given this, the countries highly evaluated the ASEAN’s adoption of a document on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, they noted.

Regarding the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, they agreed to assist Myanmar and especially the Rohingya people to repatriate voluntarily and safely with their security and dignity ensured, and to continue implementing other recommendations in an appropriate manner.

The leaders also highlighted the progress in the negotiations on a Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea between ASEAN and China, affirming the necessity to build an efficient, effective and internationally-recognised COC.

At the session, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc delivered a speech on the importance of ASEAN’s solidarity and consensus in the community building.

He underscored the urgent need for sincerity and frankness in relations among the member countries, respect for diversity and differences, maintenance of solidarity, and not hurting one another’s sentiment and interests. He also called on the regional countries to keep steadfastness in the treatment of partners.

The PM affirmed that in 2020, as the ASEAN Chairman and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Vietnam will actively work with Indonesia to promote the bloc’s stature through strengthening the ASEAN-UN connectivity. He also expressed his hope for other countries’ coordination and support to help Vietnam fulfill this role.

Regarding the East Sea issue, the Vietnamese leader said ASEAN should have a straightforward view, noting that the bloc should recognise the initial positive steps in the COC talks, but it also should not leave aside developments in reality like illegal land reclamation, militarisation, obstruction of the legal exploitation of marine resources, and even threats to the safety of fishermen’s lives and assets.

Therefore, the ASEAN needs to encourage dialogue and cooperation while simultaneously being straightforward and responsible for the developments that may negatively affect peace, security and stability, he added.