Foreign ministers from ASEAN member countries met with their counterparts from the US and the EU in two separate meetings in Bali, Indonesia, on July 22 in preparation for the East Asia Summit and relating meetings scheduled for November in Indonesia.

The meetings under the ASEAN+1 mechanism were part of a series of bilateral ministerial meetings between ASEAN and its partners following the 44 th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 44).

At the ASEAN-US Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the participants focused discussions on efforts to enhance and strengthen cooperation between the two parties with a view to maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

The ministers exchanged views, deeply discussed US participation in the East Asia Summit (EAS) and proposed the organisation of the third ASEAN-US leaders’ meeting in Bali in November this year.

The meeting also discussed efforts to increase ASEAN-US cooperation in political security, including the US intention to join the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty.

The meeting considered the implementation of the Joint Statement of the ASEAN-US leaders’ meeting in New York in 2010 to promptly ratify the ASEAN-US Action Plan for the 2011-2015 period, including lifting the ASEAN-US partnership to strategic level, and discussed the ASEAN-US Eminent Persons Group expected to begin operation this year.

The ministers agreed to continue cooperation between the two sides in non-traditional security such as counter-terrorism, drug smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering and transnational crimes.

They also considered the ASEAN-US economic participation in the ASEAN – US Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (ASEAN-US TIFA).

On the same day, ASEAN and EU Foreign Ministers gathered to review and assess outcomes of cooperation between the two groups, in order to continue promoting peace, stability and political security, economic progress, social equality, democracy, human rights, management capacity and operation of governments, legal structures and sustainable development in ASEAN and EU.

In this spirit, the ministers reviewed the implementation of work of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to continue to promote and protect human rights in ASEAN, especially through EU participation in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).

The meeting also discussed activities relating to the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) for 2011-2013, as well as EU programmes to support ASEAN integration within the framework of the ASEAN-EU Programme for Regional Integration Support phase II (APRIS II) that ended in May last year, and MIP programmes in Asia for the 2007-2010 and 2011-2013 periods.

The meeting welcomed and encouraged the cooperation between business communities of the two blocs that was reflected at the ASEAN-EU business summit in Jakarta in May./.