Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh attended on July 2 the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-20) and the third East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (EAS-3) in Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan.
Addressing the ARF-20, Minister Minh said the 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, the ARF should continue building 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, co-operation and development in the region.
They stated they highly value the role and contributions of the ARF, an important dialogue for political-security co-operation 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 much 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 (1982 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 co-operation 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 lauded that ASEAN and China will conduct official political consultations to reach a COC at an early date.
During the EAS-3, the ministers focused on reviewing their co-operation over the past years, proposing directions and measures to further strengthen co-operation 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 co-operation and ways to cope with challenges facing the region and the whole world for peace, stability, security and prosperity in the region.
Countries in the region should enhance co-operation 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 co-operation in preventing piracy, search and rescue at sea, maritime security and environmental protection, as well as 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 co-operation 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 co-operation 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.
During the meetings, referring to 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 and China’s 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 co-operation mechanisms on preventing accidents at sea, and sea search and rescue.
Later the same day, 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. They shared their opinions on specific measures to further bilateral ties in the time to come.
Minister Minh voiced his hope that State Secretary 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.