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Deputy FM suggests priorities at ASEAN-US special ministerial meeting

Hanoi, May 5 (VNA) – Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung proposed several priorities in ASEAN-US cooperation in his speech to the ASEAN-US Special Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Washington D.C. on May 4, the first such meeting since US President Donald Trump took office.

The priorities include developing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, promoting innovation, digital economy and marine cooperation, people-to-people exchanges and responding to non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism and cyber attacks.

Dung underscored the need to protect Mekong River water resources and respond to climate change.

The Deputy FM said the US’s continued support for ASEAN’s central role in the regional architecture is significant to regional peace, stability and connectivity.

On the East Sea issue, he expressed concern over recent developments in the East Sea and emphasised the importance of peace, stability, security, maritime safety and freedom in the East Sea, affirming that it is of shared concern of countries in and outside the region, including the US.

Speaking at the event, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged to continue the ASEAN-US Connectivity Cooperation Initiative, facilitate sustainable and equitable economic growth and maintain training courses for ASEAN youngsters and women such as the Young Southeast Asian Leaders’ Initiative and Fulbright scholarships.

At the event, ASEAN and the US committed to work together to counter trans-national challenges such as terrorism and cyber security.

They expressed concern over recent developments in the Korean Peninsula and the East Sea, and underscored the significance of peace, stability, security, maritime and aviation safety and freedom in the East Sea.

They called for exercising restraint, peacefully settling disputes in line with international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, diplomatic and legal process in the region, full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and formulation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea.

The same day, countries attended a round-table forum organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

At the 30th ASEAN-US Dialogue on May 3, the two sides reviewed plans for ASEAN-US cooperation, preparations for the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting, the fifth ASEAN-US Special Summit and celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-US ties.

The US has become the bloc’s fourth largest trade partner with two-way trade of 212 billion USD in 2015, and the top investor with total registered capital of 274 billion USD. Bilateral economic ties have generated more than 5 million jobs in the US.