Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (centre) talks to participants in the banquet (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung hosted a banquet to welcome the first year of the ASEAN Community (AC), which was officially launched on December 31, 2015, and upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet) festival in Hanoi on January 10.

Top Vietnamese leaders, ambassadors and representatives of international organisations were invited to the banquet where the PM ​expressed Vietnam’s gratitude to other countries for their support in the historic establishment of the AC.

“Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries will walk into the year 2016 as members of a common AC family that was built on the three pillars of political security, economic and cultural-social,” the PM said in his speech.

The establishment of the AC was part of the region’s natural development thanks to the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over nearly half a century since its inception, he said.

Seeing ASEAN as a strategic priority, Vietnam will continue to strengthen its cooperation with other members to develop the AC, he said.

“We take great pride in this particular success but are also deeply aware that the situation in the region is becoming more complicated, especially in the East Sea,” the PM said.

“Vietnam is determined to protect its sovereignty and rightful interests but also perseveres with peaceful solutions based on international law to resolve disputes and disagreements,” he stressed.

The country will do its best to maintain peace in the East Sea and the region, he said, calling on the international community to have “strong voices and actions to support the efforts of Vietnam and ASEAN” regarding the issue.

Moroccan Ambassador El Houcine Fardini, on behalf of the diplomatic delegations, said the establishment of the AC was a major milestone towards regional connectivity, helping to create a giant market of 600 million people and a total GDP of more than 2.6 trillion USD.

He congratulated all ASEAN members for the achievement and expressed his belief that it will help promote regional cooperation for the sake of peace, stability and prosperity.-VNA