The ASEAN and US leaders pose for photo at the 4th ASEAN-US Summit in Vientiane (Photo: VNA)

Vientiane (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended the ASEAN Plus One Summits with the US and India and the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, on September 8, within the framework of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and related meetings.

At the 14th ASEAN-India Summit, both sides agreed to continuously boost trade and investment towards a 200 billion USD value by 2022 from 58.7 billion USD made in 2015.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi affirmed that India gives ASEAN an important position in its Act East policy and wants to become a trusted partner of the bloc to boost peace and prosperity in the region.

India will prioritise strengthening infrastructure connectivity, digital connectivity and people-to-people exchanges with ASEAN, he added.

He also announced the additional provision of 50 million USD for the ASEAN-India Cooperation Fund and wanted to speed up the implementation of digital and infrastructure connectivity projects through the use of India’s 1-billion-USD credit.

During the fourth ASEAN-US Summit, the two sides appreciated practical developments in the ASEAN-US relationship since it was lifted to a strategic partnership level in November 2015.

ASEAN countries appreciated the role of the US – an important partner of the bloc – in building the ASEAN Community, promoting peace and security, forming the regional architecture and cooperating in addressing global challenges.

In 2015, trade between ASEAN and the US reached 212 billion USD, accounting for 9.3 percent of ASEAN’s trade turnover. US investors also poured 12 billion USD into the bloc.

Meanwhile, at the 11th East Asia Summit (EAS), the countries reaffirmed the importance of the EAS as a forum for their leaders to talk political, security and economic issues of mutual concern and interests to intensify mutual trust and understanding and help promote peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity in East Asia.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that the UN wants to coordinate with East Asian nations in carrying out common cooperative goals and dealing with global challenges.

The leaders then approved the Vientiane Declaration on Promoting Infrastructure Development Cooperation in East Asia, and the EAS Declaration on Strengthening Responses to Migrants in Crisis and Trafficking in Persons.

Regarding the regional and international issues, the leaders discussed common interests and the importance of ensuring peace, stability, maritime and aviation security, safety and freedom in the East Sea.

They upheld the peaceful settlement of disputes with respect to international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and diplomatic and legal processes, as well as exercising self-restraint to avoid militarisation and actions that complicate the situation.

They also showed support for the adequate and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and efforts to soon complete a Code of Conduct in the East Sea between ASEAN and China.

Addressing the summits, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc expressed the delight at the strong and extensive development of ASEAN’s relations with the partners. He stressed that cooperation between the bloc and the partner countries is crucial to peace, security, stability and development in the region.

To bring into play the role of Vietnam – the coordinator of ASEAN-India relations between 2015 and 2018, he asked both sides to enhance cooperation to tap into their potential and political commitments.

India, a prestigious and powerful nation in the region and the world, should work with ASEAN to bring into play the role of international institutions, urge for adherence to international law, prevent conflicts, build trust, and peacefully resolve disputes, he said.

The two sides need to take concrete measures to promote trade, investment and infrastructure and digital connectivity, thereby tightening connections between ASEAN and India. They should also pay due attention to collaboration in science-technology as it is of India’s strength while the bloc has high demand for.

The PM suggested ASEAN and the US boost cooperation in economics, investment, trade, environmental protection, science-technology, education-training, startup support, and climate change response. They should make more joint efforts to deal with non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism and infectious epidemics.

He suggested the US continue implementing the Lower Mekong Initiative and helping the Mekong countries improve their capacity of climate change adaptation and water resources management and sustainable use.

At the EAS, the Vietnamese leader emphasised the need to build and strengthen trust among countries, promote the role of multilateral institutions in the region, and build a foundation for the region’s order so as to ensure peace, stability, cooperation and development.

The compliance with international law must be ensured while a code of conduct for countries should be built. The regional countries need to avoid any unilateral actions, imposition, intimidation, or using force, he noted.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc assured that Vietnam and other ASEAN countries will strive to foster the bloc’s central role in building trust, keeping peace, and promoting the partners’ efforts towards the goals in line with common interests.

The EAS and other forums held by ASEAN have created a relatively firm foundation for shaping a future regional architecture, he said, underscoring the necessity to improve the EAS’s efficiency and consider marine cooperation as a new prioritised area.

Voicing concerns about the complex happenings in the East Sea, he said it deals with not only maritime sovereignty but also the safeguarding of peace and cooperation; security, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight over the East Sea; and the respect for international law, including the effective implementation of the DOC and non-militarising activities.

He called on all parties to show goodwill and determination to enter a new phase of transforming the East Sea into a region of peace, stability, cooperation and development.

It is important that all parties must exercise self-restraint, not use or threaten to use force, handle disputes by peaceful measures, on the basis of international law, including the UNCLOS, and fully respect diplomatic and legal processes, the PM stressed.

The current situation requires substantive trust-building measures and preventive diplomacy, especially the effective implementation of the DOC and expeditious approval a code of conduct in 2017.

He said Vietnam welcomes the Guidelines for Hotline Communications among senior officials of the foreign ministries of the ASEAN countries and China in response to maritime emergencies in the implementation of the DOC, and the Joint Statement on the Application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the East Sea. It hopes that those measures will be enforced effectively, helping to build trust and prevent incidents in the East Sea.

He added that he wants the partners to continue active contributions to the regional peace and stability, share experience in solving sea disputes by peaceful measures, and increase support for ASEAN to raise the capacity of handling sea-related issues.

On the sidelines of the summits, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and other leaders attended a ceremony approving a joint statement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and related meetings wrapped later on September 8. Laos handed over the 2017 ASEAN Chairmanship to the Philippines.

The Vietnamese delegation left Vientiane on the day, concluding their business trip in Laos.-VNA