The 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-47) and related meetings successfully wrapped up in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on August 10.

Earlier the same day, several meetings took place within the framework of the AMM-47, including the ASEAN ministerial meetings with Australia and New Zealand, the fourth East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (EAS FMM-4), and the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF-21).

During the meetings, the ministers discussed and agreed on orientations and measures to further strengthen ties between ASEAN and its partners, and foster the regional cooperative structure on the basis of ASEAN-led processes in order to better ensure peace, stability, security and development in the region. They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.

The partner countries pledged to continue enhancing collaboration with ASEAN, supporting the building of the ASEAN Community in 2015 and beyond as well as its central role in the regional architecture. They also affirmed their commitments to helping the bloc promote linkage and sustainable development, narrow development gap and deal with common challenges.

Participants welcomed Vietnam’s hosting and chairing of the fifth ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) and the third Expanded AMF in late August, offering a chance for regional countries to broadly and deeply discuss measures and initiatives.

During discussions on regional and international issues, the East Sea continued to attract attention. The countries expressed their deep concern over the recent tensions in the sea which seriously affected peace, security and stability in the region, calling for efforts to prevent the reoccurrence of similar incidents.

The ministers affirmed that peace, stability, and maritime security and safety in the East Sea are in the common interests of all countries, and stressed the need for parties involved to strictly follow international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, solve disputes by peaceful means, restrain themselves, and not to use or threat to use force.

ASEAN and China need to make more efforts to ensure the full implementation of commitments mentioned in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), first and foremost Article 5 of the DOC on self-restraint and refraining from making moves causing instability and further complicating the situation, while stepping up result-oriented talks for an early formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) to better ensure peace and stability in the region, they said.

At the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting, the ministers approved an action plan for the implementation of the bilateral comprehensive partnership for 2015-2019 and set forth measures to expand and deepen the ties.

They highly valued activities to celebrate the 40 th anniversary of the bilateral dialogue relationship in 2014, agreeing to work closely to make the ASEAN-Australia Commemorative Summit held in Myanmar later this year a success.

At the ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial Meeting, participants spoke highly of achievements gained during the deployment of the ASEAN-New Zealand Action Plan and four key initiatives, namely the Scholarship Programme, ASEAN Young Business Leaders exchange programme, ASEAN Disaster Risk Management Initiative and Agricultural Diplomacy Programme.

ASEAN praised New Zealand for its assistance in foreign language training and the provision of 100 million NZD (84.6 million USD) for Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar to help narrow development gap between them and other ASEAN countries in the 2011-2015 period.

Meanwhile, the EAS FMM-4 reached agreement on further consolidating and promoting the role of the East Asia Summit as a forum for leaders to hold dialogue on strategic issues related to peace, security and development in the region, including political-security and economic matters on the basis of goals and regulations mentioned in the 2005 Kuala Lumpur Declaration, the 2010 Hanoi Declaration and the 2011 Bali Declaration on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations.

They affirmed the important role of the EAS in the regional structure with ASEAN playing the central role, stressing the need to connect the EAS with other ASEAN-led processes, including the ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and ARF.

Delegates highlighted the central role of ASEAN in fostering regional connectivity and agreed to continue boosting EAS connections in finance, education, disease prevention, energy, disaster management and maritime cooperation.

At the 21 st ARF, the ministers highlighted the role of the ARF as a leading forum for dialogue and cooperation in politics, security, trust building and settlement of security challenges in the region.

They reached a consensus on the continued implementation of trust building measures in combination with preventive diplomacy, ensuring the effective deployment of the Hanoi Plan of Action to implement the ARF Vision Statement by 2020.

The participants approved working plans on priority fields, including maritime security, disaster relief, terrorism and trans-national crime prevention and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

In his speeches at the meetings, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh spoke highly of progress in the relations between ASEAN and its partners.

He stressed the important contributions of EAS and ARF to peace, security, stability and cooperation in the region, suggesting the partners expand their assistance for ASEAN to help the bloc achieve its goals of building the ASEAN Community, developing the Mekong sub-region, narrowing development gap, as well as promote its central role in the region, especially in peace and security-related issues.

The Vietnamese official also proposed measures to further consolidate and strengthen the role of the EAS and ARF, suggesting ASEAN continue promote its central role in the regional security and cooperative structure, and together with its partners contribute more to ensuring peace, stability and development in East Asia.

Regarding the East Sea issue, Minh voiced his deep concern over the recent tensions in the sea, especially China’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and stressed that countries should make commitment and take measures to prevent the recurrence of similar violations.

The Deputy PM reaffirmed the importance of peace, stability, and maritime security and safety in the East Sea, as well as principles agreed by ASEAN in the Declaration on Six-point Principles on the East Sea, and the Declaration issued by ASEAN Foreign Ministers on May 10, which highlighted the must to abide by international law, the DOC, and handle disputes by peaceful measures.-VNA