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Officials talk priorities for ASEAN in 2018

The ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Retreat took place in Singapore on January 12, discussing priorities for 2018 and the preparation for some of the grouping’s major activities in the time ahead.

This was also the bloc’s first meeting in 2018 when Singapore holds the ASEAN Chair.

Participants welcomed the Singapore-proposed theme of building a resilient and innovative ASEAN this year, which illustrates the member countries’ resolve to stand firm in front of challenges, enhance cooperation, and together grasp opportunities to develop.

The ASEAN countries agreed to continue maintaining the bloc’s solidarity and central role, build law order, ensure peace and security, and promote cooperation to cope with such challenges as terrorism, natural disasters and climate change. They agreed to make use of opportunities brought about by scientific-technological development to grow more rapidly through initiatives relating to e-commerce, smart city, and cooperation in aviation, tourism and youth.

The meeting looked into preparations for the summit commemorating ASEAN-India relations in New Delhi on January 24-25, the ASEAN-Australia special summit in Sydney on March 17-18, the 15th anniversary of the ASEAN-China strategic partnership and the ASEAN-China Year of Innovation this year.

Officials also scrutinised the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the building of a code of conduct in the waters.

Facing developments in the international and regional situation, the member countries shared the view that ASEAN need to keep solidarity and unanimity and consolidate existing mechanisms and forums so as to continue connecting the countries in dialogue and contribute to regional peace, security and development.

Addressing the event, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM delegation, said to have a resilient and innovative ASEAN, the grouping needs to continue respecting the basic principles in order to maintain its solidarity and central role, bring into play its key role in resolving regional issues, and improve the capacity of dealing with challenges.

To build an innovative ASEAN, the member nations should also gear up to grasp technology and promote innovative development, he added.

Regarding swift changes in the international and regional situation, Deputy Minister Dung asked ASEAN to keep close consultation and enhance the role and value of regional mechanisms and forums launched and led by ASEAN, thereby maintaining a framework for all partners to continue engaging in and contributing to peace, stability and common development.

On this occasion, he announced that Vietnam will host the 23rd meeting of the ASEAN-China working group on the DOC implementation on March 1 and 2.

Later on January 12, officials participated in a ceremony launching the ASEAN Year 2018 under the chair of Singapore.