The conference was co-chaired by Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang, Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Ministry of National Defense, Head of Vietnam's ARF DOD, and Chris Johnstone, Principal Director, South and Southeast Asia, Office of the Secretary of Defense of the U.S., along with the participation of Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister and representatives of partner countries within the framework of ARF.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh speaks at the meeting.

Speaking at the conference, Gen. Vinh said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only the economy but also political and social aspects of the world.

Taking on the role of ASEAN Chair in such a context is a completely new experience for Vietnam, as well as for ASEAN members and their partners. Embracing the “Cohesive and Responsive” theme of the ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020, ASEAN members and their partners have actively coped with unprecedented situations and organized many activities in online forms, like this ARF DOD Conference, he noted.

The Deputy Defense Minister emphasized that implementing the results of the ASEAN Special Summit and the ASEAN+3 Special Summit on COVID-19 Response, the joint statement by the ASEAN defense ministers on defense cooperation against the COVID-19, ASEAN countries have successfully organized an online exercise in response to the pandemic with the participation of military medical forces of ASEAN member countries. The exercise aims to exchange the participants' experiences and promote defense cooperation in dealing with non-traditional security challenges.

Gen. Vinh believes that the success of this ARF DOD Conference will be an important prerequisite for the success of the upcoming 17th ASEAN Regional Forum Security Policy Conference (ASPC-17).

Other delegates of the conference

Addressing the event, Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang said that this is the first time an ARF DOD Conference has been organized online. He also underscored the significance of ASEAN’s cohesion and proactive adaptation to addressing challenges in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that cooperation among ASEAN countries and between the bloc and their partners has shown cohesion and proactive adaptation, in line with the theme chosen by the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense.

Gen. Thang affirmed that Vietnam has attached great importance and gives top priority to defense-security cooperation channels in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and will continue making efforts to promote these channels.

For his part, Chris Johnstone thanked Vietnam for co-hosting this ARF DOD Conference and the presence of all delegates despite the time zone difference.

ARF DOD conference aims to promote defense cooperation in preventing the spread of the disease among countries participating in ASEAN Regional Forum, and serves as a premise for ASPC-17 Conference to take place on July 8.

During the event, delegates discussed cooperation in military medicine, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and coping with communicable diseases, as well as Vietnam’s initiatives to promote defense-security cooperation in the ARF.

Translated by Lam Anh