Representatives of the countries discussed regional and international developments and ASEAN external relations. They spoke highly of Vietnam’s efforts to prepare for the 36th ASEAN Summit slated for June 26 in the context of COVID-19, and agreed on the working agenda proposed by the host.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh chairs the meeting.

They  reiterated their “Cohesive and Responsive” spirit, adding that the pandemic could not undermine their solidarity, cooperation, activeness, and creativity.

Ministers agreed that ASEAN has become a central force in curbing the disease and maintaining socio-political stability in the region, and held that it is time for the bloc to take new steps by strengthening prevention and control of the pandemic’s recurrence, and developing recovery and post-pandemic development plans.

In this process, dialogues and cooperation are still needed, they suggested.

Participants also expressed their support for and willingness to cooperate in implementing initiatives proposed by Vietnam such as completing the mid-term review of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, evaluating the implementation of the ASEAN Charter, and building ASEAN's post-2025 development orientations.

Exchanging views on regional and international issues, the ministers reaffirmed ASEAN's viewpoints on the East Sea (South China Sea), the Rakhine State (Myanmar), and the Korean Peninsula.

Particularly, regarding the East Sea issue, ASEAN countries emphasized that peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and aviation in the region should be taken as the top priority, especially as the international community is struggling against COVID-19.

They underlined the importance of the practice of restraint without taking actions to complicate the situation, while upholding international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), fully implementing the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and quickly resuming negotiations for building an effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

Six reports from the ASEAN Secretary General and community pillars submitted to the upcoming 36th ASEAN Summit were adopted at the 26th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh highly valued ASEAN’s solidarity and cooperation spirit, describing this as a key factor to ensure peace and stability in the region, and a foundation for the bloc to overcome challenges posed by COVID-19.

For the situation in the world and the region, Minh expressed concern on the recent development in the East Sea and reiterated the consistent viewpoints of ASEAN and Vietnam in particular.

He called on ASEAN member states to promote responsibility, dialogues, and cooperation for peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea.

In this process, it is essential to uphold international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, exercise self-restraint, avoid militarization and actions that complicate the situation, and fully implement the DOC and build an effective COC in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, he added.

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups 10 member countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Source: VNA