Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on July 2 attended the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-20) and the third East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (EAS-3) in Brunei.
At the ARF-20, Minh said ARF should continue promoting its role as a regional leading political and security forum to make greater contributions to peace, stability, security and development in the region.
In the context of changes in security in the region and the world, ARF should further build trust, while enhancing preventive diplomacy and increasing links between the forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) mechanism, he said.
During the ARF-20, the ministers highlighted the significance of peace, security, stability, cooperation and development in the region.
They highly valued the role and contributions of ARF, an important dialogue for political-security cooperation in Asia-Pacific, in reaching these goals.
The ministers also tabled regional and international issues of mutual concern, including the Korean peninsula, the Middle East and the East Sea situation.
They spent time discussing recent developments in the East Sea, underscoring the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and maritime safety in the East Sea.
They emphasised that all parties should peacefully settle all differences in the East Sea without using force, in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Welcoming the ASEAN Six-Point Principles on the East Sea, the ministers encouraged all sides to strengthen exchanges of opinions and approaches to the issues to increase trust and cooperation in handling risks in the sea.
They applauded the efforts of ASEAN and China in fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), heading to the building of a Code of Conduct (COC). They also hailed ASEAN-China agreement on conducting official political consultations to reach a COC at an early date.
During the EAS-3, the ministers focused on reviewing their cooperation over the years, proposing directions and measures to further strengthen cooperation in the future, while discussing strategic issues in the region.
They agreed on the importance of the EAS as a forum for leaders of regional countries, in which ASEAN plays a key role, to dialogue on strategic issues in all fields, including politics, security, economics, development cooperation and ways to cope with challenges facing the region and the whole world.
Countries in the region should enhance cooperation to deal with food security and prevent pandemic, they said.
They welcomed China’s initiative on developing East Asia as well as Brunei’s proposals on ensuring food security, sustainable fishing management and environmental protection.
The ministers also saluted the first conference of the dengue fighting alliance, which will be held on the occasion of the 8th East Asia Summit in Brunei this October under the co-chair of the Australian and Vietnamese Prime Ministers.
They stressed the importance of ensuring peace, stability and maritime security in the region, especially in the East Sea, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes and strict compliance with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.
The foreign ministers hailed regional efforts to promote maritime cooperation in preventing piracy, search and rescue at sea, maritime security and environmental protection, and connectivity at sea.
Speaking at the event, FM Minh affirmed that it is necessary to ensure the EAS continues to be a forum for leaders to talk and design directions for cooperation in issues of strategic importance, on the basis of EAS goals and principles, which were defined in basic documents, including the Hanoi Statement in 2010.
He also shared his view on the need to boost the EAS’s role in building regional regulations and frameworks for the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in East Asia.
At the same time, it is necessary to enhance economic and trade connectivity in East Asia to establish a free trade area and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), he said.
It is important to boost cooperation in solving common challenges such as natural disaster management, maritime security and safety, anti-terrorism as well as other non-traditional security challenges, he added.
Regarding the East Sea issue, FM Minh reaffirmed that peace, stability, maritime security and safety are the common interest and benefit of the region and all countries.
ASEAN members and other countries should exert more efforts to contribute to these shared goals, especially in the context of recent complicated changes in the region, he said.
He highlighted the Six-Point Principles of ASEAN on the East Sea, while underscoring the importance of principles on building trust, settling disputes peacefully without using force, respecting international law and the 1982 UNCLOS which includes principles on respecting the exclusive economic zones of coastal nations, the full implementation of the DOC and the prompt building of a COC.
He applauded ASEAN-China agreement to organise official consultations on a COC at a senior official level in September this year, expressing hope that the event will pave the way for both sides to step up negotiations for the early building of a COC.
The minister also suggested that all regional countries discuss and establish regional cooperation mechanisms for preventing accidents at sea, and sea search and rescue.
On the sidelines of the events, Minister Minh met US State Secretary John Kerry to discuss bilateral issues, as well as regional and international matters of mutual concern.
Both sides said they are pleased to see positive developments in Vietnam-US ties during the past years.
Minister Minh voiced his hope that Kerry will make more contributions to the development of Vietnam-US relations for the sake of both peoples and for peace, stability and development in the region and the world.