Chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, the video conference was attended by ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, ASEAN foreign ministers, and representatives from EAS partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the U.S.

Acknowledging progress in implementing the Manila Action Plan 2018-2022, the EAS countries agreed to continue boosting cooperation in priority areas, including environment, energy, education, finance, health, disaster management, connectivity, economics, trade, food security, and marine cooperation.

Deputy PM and FM Pham Binh Minh chairs the meeting.

Foreign ministers said amid the COVID-19 and its complicated developments, EAS countries need to enhance practical cooperation, raise their capacity to respond to and minimize negative impact of the pandemic while promoting sustainable regional recovery.

The EAS partners spoke highly of Vietnam's role as the 2020 ASEAN Chair for actively coordinating the COVID-19 response efforts of ASEAN and partners, and supported ASEAN initiatives such as the COVID-19 Response Fund and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies.

ASEAN recommended the EAS partners, with their strengths, support ASEAN to improve its capacity for preventive medicine, coordinate information sharing and exchange of experience in treatment, research and production of vaccines, and minimize socio-economic impact while promoting sustainable economic recovery and growth.

Participants welcomed Vietnam's proposal to host an EAS inter-sectoral expert conference on COVID-19 to strengthen response and recovery efforts in the region, slated for October 2020.

Fifteen years after its establishment, the EAS is now facing both new opportunities and challenges in the context of unprecedentedly rapid and complex changes in the region. The countries need to coordinate closely to strengthen the group in the new phase, contributing positively to dialogue and cooperation, maintaining peace, security and prosperity, and effectively responding to emerging challenges in the region.

The countries agreed to support the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS-15) to adopt an announcement marking the EAS' 15th founding anniversary and cooperation documents on sustainable marine cooperation, promoting stable regional economic growth, capacity building in response to epidemics, and enhancing the role of women in ensuring peace and security.

Participants exchanged views on regional and international situations of mutual interest, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the East Sea, Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and Hong Kong (China).

Regarding the situation in the East Sea (South China Sea), they emphasized the importance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, which is a common interest of all countries. They also expressed concerns about recent developments in the waters that cause harms to peace, security and the rule of the law in the region, especially amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The countries stressed the need to push up dialogues and intensify the building of trust; and to refrain from the acts that worsen tension and complicate the situation, from militarization, and from the use of or threat to use force. The disputes must be settled by peaceful measures on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

The meeting called on ASEAN and China to fully and effectively implement the Declaration of the Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and work to soon complete the building of an effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), consistent with international law and recognized by the international community.

Addressing the conference, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh affirmed the strategic role and important contributions of the EAS in the past 15 years. He emphasized the EAS chair's coordination role in EAS cooperation activities, and in enhancing the EAS role in responding promptly and effectively to emerging challenges in the region. Participants expressed their support for Vietnam's proposal on issuing a Hanoi Declaration marking the 15th anniversary of the EAS.

Regarding the East Sea situation, Minh reaffirmed ASEAN's principled position stated at the 36th ASEAN Summit and the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

He suggested related parties uphold the law, refrain from the acts that further complicate the situation and from militarization, settle disputes through peaceful measures, continue to fully and effectively implement the DOC and soon complete the effective and efficient COC in accordance with international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS, contributing to maintaining peace, security and stability in the East Sea and in the region.

According to the agenda for September 10, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers will attend the ASEAN-US, ASEAN-Canada, ASEAN-Australia, and ASEAN-New Zealand Foreign Ministers’ meetings, the dialogue between ASEAN Foreign Ministers and representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the ASEAN ministerial dialogue on strengthening women’s role for sustainable peace and security.

Source: VNA