|ASEAN leaders attend the plenary session of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore on November 13.
ASEAN’s unity must continue to be the key factor in both thought and actions for the sake of a steady, resilient and strongly cohesive ASEAN Community, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a plenary session of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore on November 13.
In his address at the summit, PM Phuc applauded the achievements ASEAN has recorded under the chairmanship of Singapore and praised Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong for his contributions to the success of the event.
Given what have been achieved in 2018, ASEAN’s resilience and innovation should continue to be further promoted in the years to come, under which ASEAN’s unity must continue to be the key factor in both thought and actions for the sake of a steady, resilient and strongly cohesive ASEAN Community, he said.
The Vietnamese Government leader called on ASEAN members to step up cooperation and dialogue to build trust, uphold international law, support a rule-based international multilateral system, and augment collaboration in innovation areas to take full advantage of opportunities in Revolution 4.0 and deliver the most practical benefits to their people.
Regarding the regional and international situation, PM Phuc said the recent developments in the East Sea has raised concern for countries in the region as unilateral moves could lead to high risk of confrontation.
He reiterated the principles agreed upon by ASEAN, which underlines the respect for international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in the peaceful settlement of disputes, exercising self-restraint, not using or threatening to use force, not militarizing or complicating the situation, strengthening the building of trust, developing an effective and substantive code of conduct (COC), and fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).
The Vietnamese government leader also voiced his support for ASEAN’s active role in helping Myanmar deal with humanitarian issues in Rakhine State, as well as for efforts to promote peace, stability and denuclearisation in the Korean Peninsula.
At the session, PM Lee Hsien Loong pointed out important issues that ASEAN need to focus on: building a peaceful, stable and rule-based region, sustaining the economic dynamism of ASEAN, and strengthening the bloc’s capacity to effectively ensure regional security and stability.
The regional group has been making progress in dialogue and cooperation to address those issues.
Lee also highlighted the strides in the talks on the COC between ASEAN and China. However, he also said the East Sea situation remains complex, urging unanimity in the bloc’s common stance and adherence to the agreed principles in consolidating trust and preventing risks of instability.
Other regional leaders echoed the view that under Singapore’s chairmanship tagline of “Resilient and Innovative” in 2018, the bloc has continued to firmly hold its central role and improve ASEAN-led dialogue and cooperation mechanisms, thus contributing to regional peace and stability and attaining positive outcomes in building the ASEAN Community.
They also noted the challenges posed by both complex global and regional changes and issues within the bloc itself.
They reiterated the foremost requirement for 1982 UNCLOS’s unity and centrality, along with an open, transparent and rule-based cooperation architecture in the region with ASEAN at the centre.
Member countries agreed that ASEAN needs to redouble efforts to facilitate dialogue, cooperation and trust building, including fruitful negotiations on the COC, peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international and the 1982 UNCLOS, and full and effective implementation of the DOC.
They also pledged continued support for Myanmar to seek long-term and sustainable solutions to humanitarian issues in Rakhine State, while hailing the recent progress in the Korean Peninsula and showing support for efforts to promote peace, stability and denuclearisation in this peninsula.
At the end of the session, ASEAN leaders pledged their support for Thailand, who will hold the grouping’s chairmanship for 2019.
A the end of the session, ASEAN leaders were appreciative of Singapore for its successful assumption of the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018, saying they would continue to boost closer collaboration and support Thailand- the Chair of ASEAN in 2019- in realizing the goals of building a strong, united and cohesive and resilient ASEAN Community.