It was the first activity of the bloc this year to discuss orientations and priorities for 2021 as well as regional and global issues of shared concern.

Representatives from participating countries congratulated Vietnam on successfully accomplishing its tenure as ASEAN Chair 2020, including leading the bloc in maintaining dialogues and timely and effective response to unprecedented challenges.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

They agreed to effectively realize reached priorities, initiatives and cooperation programs, including accelerating the building of the ASEAN Community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also expressed support to the Brunei’s theme of ASEAN Chairmanship 2021 “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”.

Speaking at the event, Minh vowed to work closely with Brunei and other ASEAN member states to fulfill the targets and priorities set for the ASEAN Year 2021.

Amid uncertain developments in the region and the world, he called on the bloc to effectively carry out initiatives as agreed last year, including Vietnam’s idea to use the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines and necessary medical supplies for front-line medical staff and vulnerable groups, as well as soon put into operation the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED).

On the Community building, Minh suggested the nations soon complete the review of the implementation of the ASEAN Charter, realize recommendations from the mid-term review of the implementation of ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and building the post-2025 ASEAN Vision.

Amid socio-economic impacts from by the pandemic, he proposed continuing to give high priority to narrowing development gap and sub-regional development. In its capacity as Chair of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Task Force for 2021, Vietnam will hold a regional dialogue on narrowing sub-regional development gap to propel sustainable recovery and balanced growth, Minh said.

According to the Deputy PM, ASEAN needs to continue further enhancing relations with external partners on the basis of ensuring solidarity, unity and central role.

Regarding the East Sea issue, Minh affirmed that contributing to peace and stability in the East Sea is responsibility of all countries in the region.

To meet such goal, he suggested ASEAN uphold the sense of responsibility, raise the united voice, uphold the basic principles and common stance over the past years, especially the spirit of abiding by international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Vietnam will join hands with nations to seriously and fully comply with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the East Sea, and together with ASEAN and China to soon reach an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, he said.

As ASEAN Chair, Brunei proposed priorities and initiatives for ASEAN in 2021, including building a comprehensive approach to promoting multilateral cooperation, building a rules-based regional architecture, coping with contingencies and disasters, providing spiritual health care for the public, and encouraging the role and contribution of the youth to common peace and prosperity.

Participants agreed to prioritize strengthening solidarity and economic connectivity, promoting internal trade and investment, completing a comprehensive plan to tap achievements brought about by the fourth industrial revolution, and upholding multilateral mechanisms to address challenges faced by the region and the world.

In external affairs, they held that ASEAN will continue deepening ties with partners, as well as further improve its central role, particularly in building an open, transparent, inclusive regional architecture based on rules, frameworks and process found and led by itself, including the ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defense Minister’s Meeting Plus.

Ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, and the principles of exercising self-restraint, avoiding militarization, and abiding by international law and the 1982 UNCLOS, as well as seriously and fully complying with the DOC in the East Sea and reaching an effective and efficient COC in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

Concluding the event, on behalf of ASEAN, Brunei issued a press release highlight the major contents of the meeting.

Source: VNA