|Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (fourth, left) and other delegates at the 19th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
These meetings took place within the framework of the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-51) that officially opened in Singapore on August 2 with the participation of foreign ministers from ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Deputy PM and FM Minh applauded efforts to expand cooperation of ASEAN 3 (China, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Japan) in such areas as digital connectivity, e-commerce and smart urban in order to narrow development gap, and promote micro, small-and medium-sized enterprises, food security as well as responses to natural disasters and diseases.
He affirmed that Vietnam will continue to constructively participate in cooperation activities of ASEAN 3.
Minh and other delegates at the event reiterated the important role played by ASEAN 3 in promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity, looking towards building a community in East Asia in the long run.
They noted that trade turnover between ASEAN and China, the RoK and Japan in 2017 made up 32 percent of the ten-member group’s total, and 27 percent of tourists to ASEAN came from Northeast Asian nations.
The ministers voiced their support for free multilateral trade and equality in the region, and agreed on initiatives to step up collaboration between ASEAN and the three countries in food security, education, culture, exchange between residents, health care and issues relating to youths and the elderly.
During the eighth EAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Minh said efforts and resources should be focused on fully implementing the Manila Action Plan for 2018-2022 and backing the adoption of the statement on cooperation in response to emerging transnational issues at the 13th EAS.
He held that the EAS members have potential for maritime cooperation and connectivity, which also match the interests and demands for collaboration in the region.
The official shared concern of the EAS countries over militarisation activities that have eroded trust and increased tensions in the East Sea.
At the event, ministers from ASEAN and its eight partners of China, Japan, the RoK, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the US consented to enhance result-oriented cooperation in a range of realms like environment-energy, education, finance, health care-diseases, natural disaster management, connectivity, economy-trade, food security and maritime affiliation.
Some expressed their deep concern over the recent militarisation activities in the East Sea and demanded no actions that would complicate the situation and unilaterally change the status quo in the area.
All disputes should be addressed peacefully in line with international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), and on the basis of respect for legal and diplomatic processes, they said.
Addressing the 25th ARF, Deputy PM and FM Minh suggested the ARF focus on effectively materialising the Hanoi Action Plan and make more renovations in operational method in order to flexibly adapt to regional and international changes.
He used this occasion to announce Vietnam’s initiatives to host an ARF workshop on enhancing cooperation among law enforcement forces at sea, and another on applying the UNCLOS 1982 and international legal tools to cope with marine challenges.
The 25th ARF brought together foreign ministers from the ASEAN member countries and its ten dialogue partners (Australia, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the US), along with Papua New Guinea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
At the forum, the ministers agreed to adopt the ARF statement on disaster relief cooperation, the list of the ARF’s activities in 2018 and 2019, and the ARF’s work plans on maritime security and disaster relief in 2018-2020.
Discussing the regional and global situation, they underscored the importance of a rule-based international order and the role of multilateral organisations.
The ministers also voiced concerns over emerging security challenges, including terrorism, trans-national crimes, marine security, cyber security, and natural disasters.
They reaffirmed the significance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, and settling disputes based on international law and the 1982 UNCLOS as well as respect for diplomatic and legal processes.
They said concerned parties should not use or threaten to use force, and not carry out militarisation activities, while fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), towards reaching a Code of Conduct in the East Sea.