Addressing the meeting in Hanoi, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Defense Minister and head of the ADSOM Vietnam, emphasized that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) entered 2020 with a lot of difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the bloc has made precise forecasts, thorough preparations and enhanced cooperation to cope with this non-traditional security challenge that has affected the region and the world.

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

General Vinh also reminded them of Vietnam’s successful organization of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM Retreat) earlier this year and noted that at the meeting, ASEAN Defense Ministers issued a joint statement on defense cooperation in response to the disease. He added that the ASEAN Defense Ministers reached an agreement that no mater how the COVID-19 pandemic develops, ASEAN member countries will continue to cooperate, especially in defense. They also agreed to continue the agendas of ASEAN military-defense meetings scheduled to take place in Vietnam this year.

According to General Vinh, during this teleconference, delegates discussed how to strengthen ASEAN defense ties in the context that many countries are still affected by COVID-19 and applying quarantine measures. He hoped that when the pandemic is under control, ASEAN Defense Senior Officials will sit together to put forward set action plans. He also underscored that “as the host country, Vietnam will do all it can to complete the ASEAN agendas with the best results and highest safety.”

The Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister expressed his hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will not hinder or suspend ASEAN’s activities. He said that ASEAN could do more by taking advantage of information technology and referred to their online conference as an example.

He hoped that with active and effective defense cooperation, ASEAN will push back and stamp out the pandemic soon and the Southeast Asian region will be the first region in the world to curb the disease.

A photo of the Vietnamese delegation in the ADSOM WG’s teleconference

During the ADSOM WG’s teleconference, delegates discussed the ASEAN defense cooperation plan this year, and preparations for an online anti-COVID-19 exercise with the participation of ASEAN military medical forces. They also evaluated the effectiveness of new initiatives of the ADMM, reviewed the 2020-2022 working plan of the ADMM and the 2020-2022 action plan of the ADMM+ Experts’ Working Group and discussed preparations for the ADSOM’s online meeting slated for May 15.

At the meeting, Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang, Director of the Department of Foreign Relations under the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense (MND), Head of the ADSOM WG Vietnam, highlighted the Vietnamese MND’s COVID-9 prevention and control. Accordingly, since the disease broke out, the Vietnamese MND has actively and effectively participated in the Government’s COVID-19 prevention efforts. The ministry’s leadership directed military units to arrange concentrated quarantine areas in their barracks to host Vietnamese expats returning home from abroad, disinfect several COVID-19 epicenters, study and produce COVID-19 test kits, and seriously monitor border gates and border open trails.

Thang also added that the Vietnamese MND and their ASEAN counterparts have actively shared experience and supported each other to cope with the complicate developments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Translated by Mai Huong