|A general view shows the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers’ including three foreign ministers from South Korea, China and Japan during the 14th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers meeting in Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan on June 30, 2013.—AFP/VNA/VNS PHOTO|
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (VNS)— ASEAN dialogue partners pledged to continue supporting the association’s building of a community by 2015 and its central role at ASEAN+1 Ministerial Meetings in Brunei yesterday.
At the meetings, the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and its dialogue partners, namely Australia, India, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Russia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and the EU reviewed their co-operation and relations, proposed co-operation orientations, discussed issues of mutual concern and the preparation of summits between ASEAN and some dialogue partners at the end of the year.
They spoke highly of the development of mutually beneficial co-operation between ASEAN and the dialogue partners, and its contribution to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
The parties agreed to strengthen co-operation through the effective implementation of existing joint action plans between the bloc and each dialogue partner, focusing on economics, trade, investment, narrowing the development gap, disaster management, cultural and educational exchanges and tourism.
The dialogue partners that participate in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations pledged to collaborate with ASEAN to complete the agreement by 2015.
At the ASEAN-Australia meeting, the ministers agreed to jointly organise the Commemorative Summit to mark the 40th year of ASEAN-Australia dialogue partnership in 2014.
The bloc also welcomed the plan to set up an Australian permanent mission in ASEAN to strengthen cooperation and collaboration.
At the ASEAN-India meeting, the two sides agreed to boost the implementation of the Vision Statement adopted at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi last December.
They reached a consensus on the completion of technical matters for the signing of the ASEAN-India Trade and Investment Agreement in Brunei in August with a target of US$100 billion in two-way trade by 2015.
The association welcomed India’s “Look East” policy, its support to the group in building the ASEAN community and strengthening ASEAN’s central role in the regional architecture.
Meanwhile, ASEAN and the RoK agreed to strengthen cooperation by effectively implementing the ASEAN-RoK action plan for the 2011-15 period, attempting to increase bilateral trade from $125 billion in 2011 to $150 billion in 2015.
The two sides pledged to work together to organise activities to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their dialogue partnership.
At the ASEAN-Russia meeting, the two sides applauded their achievements in implementing their strategic partnership, and the successful organisation of the ASEAN-Russia Business Forum on June 22 in Saint Petersburg to foster ties between businesses.
They affirmed to continue to enhance their cooperation in security-politics, economics, trade, culture, society, energy, disaster management, tourism and supporting ASEAN connectivity.
ASEAN spoke highly of the US’s commitments to the region at a ministerial meeting with the country on the same day.
The two sides stressed the need to intensify cooperation for peace, security and development in the region, co-operation in economics, trade, investment, education and climate change as well as sustainable use of water in the Mekong Sub-region.
They welcomed ASEAN Economic Ministers’ trip to the US to promote the group, agreed to further implement the 2011-15 action plan, the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, the ASEAN-US Energy Co-operation Work Plan for 2012-14 and the Expanded Economic Engagement initiative.
At the ASEAN-Canada meeting, the two sides praised the establishment and the role of the ASEAN-Canada Council in promoting their cooperation. Canada pledged to continue supporting ASEAN in raising the capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat and training in financial services and the English language.
At the ASEAN-New Zealand meeting, the ministers agreed to boost co-operation in economics, education, food and disaster management. The bloc applauded the ASEAN-New Zealand Scholarship Programme, the ASEAN Young Business Leaders’ Initiative, the Disaster Risk Management and the Agricultural Diplomacy programmes. The two sides also reached a consensus on the coordination to successfully organise a commemorative summit to mark the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-New Zealand relations in 2014.
At all the meetings, ministers also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the East Sea issue.
The countries highlighted the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and in the East Sea, as well as the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the ASEAN-China Joint Statement on the 10th anniversary of the DOC.
They affirmed the necessity to promptly work out a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) and expressed their hope that ASEAN and China maintain consultations on official COC negotiations.
Speaking at the meetings, Viet Nam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh highly valued the important progress in the relationship between the grouping and its partners. He underlined the importance of strengthening ties in fields of mutual benefit as well as dealing with arising challenges and non-traditional security issues.
The same day, Minh and Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, co-chaired the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting.
Both sides appreciated the achievements gained over the past years and agreed to work with each other to fully implement an action plan for the 2013-17 period and the ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Work Programme.
ASEAN praised the union’s effective contributions to regional links through the 2011-13 Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP), ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE) and the ASEAN-EU Regional Dialogue Instrument (READI).
The two sides acknowledged the progress in negotiations on the free trade agreements (FTAs) between the union and some ASEAN member countries, considering it a foundation for FTAs between the two regions.
Minh affirmed Viet Nam will make every effort to coordinate with other countries to lift the ASEAN-EU relationship to a new height and strengthen cooperation for peace, stability and common development.
Both ASEAN and the EU highly valued Viet Nam’s role as the coordinator in the ASEAN-EU relationship, and committed to help Viet Nam fulfil its role in the 2012-15 period.
During the meeting, Minh also affirmed strong support for ASEAN’s stance and regulations on the East Sea, including the principles of restraint, solving all disputes by peaceful means and respecting international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Lower Mekong meeting
Also yesterday Foreign Minister Minh attended the Ministerial Meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and the Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) Ministerial Meeting in Brunei.
The LMI meeting discussed challenges to regional development and demands for cooperation and support for Mekong countries to narrow development gaps.
At the meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed US commitment to strengthen cooperation with Mekong countries in the implementation of the LMI.
The mweeting agreed to create closer links between the LMI and the Initiative of ASEAN Integration, and assist Mekong countries in integrating into the fields that the US is strong in, such as education and training, energy, information technology and health care.
The Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) meeting discussed opportunities and challenges in the management of shared water resources in Mekong River. — VNS