The event was joined by defense ministers of ASEAN members and ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Phan Van Giang.

Vietnamese Defense Minister at the event

Speaking at the event, Brunei's Minister of Defense II Pehin Datu Lailaraja Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Md Yussof stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way ASEAN members cooperate, but at the same time, spurred them to take necessary measures to ensure resilience and readiness prior to challenges. He believed that the defense cooperation among ASEAN countries will be strongly enhanced in the time to come for the sake of mutual benefits, peace and stability in the region.

Delegates to the meeting were also briefed on the results of the ASEAN Defense Senior Officials’ Meeting (ADSOM) in March 2021, while ratifying related documents proposed by the ADSOM. Also, they discussed the annual organization of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+). According to Vietnamese Defense Minister Sr. Lt. Gen. Phan Van Giang, the ADMM+ mechanism has provided a great opportunity for ASEAN defense ministers to exchange views on strategic and defense-security issues since it was launched in 2010. Notably, thanks to the mechanism, the practical cooperation between the militaries of ASEAN members and eight partner countries has been significantly developed. As a result, the ADMM+ was held biennially from 2013-2017 and annually as from 2017. The annual organization of this mechanism has met the needs of all ADMM+ members to share points of view regularly, especially amid the complicated developments of regional and global situations. In addition, it has helped boost substantive cooperation, contributing to peace, stability, and development in the region and the world. The Vietnamese defense minister also agreed with the proposal to annually organize the ADMM+.

At the event, delegates also consented to hold informal meetings between ASEAN defense ministers and their counterparts from partner countries in 2021, and approved preparations for the eighth ADMM+, which will be held virtually on June 16.

In addition, they ratified the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration of the 15th founding anniversary of ADMM towards a future ASEAN of peace and prosperity.

The ASEAN defense ministers pledged to continue accelerating collaboration to cope with the pandemic in the time to come, following the instructions of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and the Joint Statement of the ASEAN Defense Ministers on Defense Cooperation against Disease Outbreaks.

Vietnamese delegation at the event

Furthermore, they emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea (South China Sea) and resolving disputes by peaceful means and in line with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982).

They also voiced their support for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the negotiations between ASEAN and China to reach a practical, effective and efficient Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law.

Translated by Trung Thanh