ASEAN, Australia defence ministers attend informal meeting hinh anh 1At the event (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Defence ministers of ASEAN member nations and Australia attended an informal meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Retreat in Hanoi on February 19 under the chair of Vietnamese Minister of National Defence Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich.

Speaking at the event, Lich said this was the first time both sides have held a meeting to discuss the regional security situation and promote bilateral defence ties.

The Vietnamese minister noted that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia established cooperative ties in 1974 and upgraded the relationship to the level of strategic partnership in 2014. Australia was the first country to form a dialogue partnership with ASEAN in the fields of politics, economy and specialised cooperation.

It could be confirmed that Australia is a top important partner of ASEAN in various areas and has made important contributions to ASEAN-led cooperation mechanisms in the region, he said, adding that ASEAN attaches importance to bolstering ties with Australia, which was specified by an action plan to realise the bilateral strategic partnership.

On defence cooperation within the ASEAN framework, Lich thanked Australia for its contributions over the past years, especially via groups of experts within the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus framework.

The Vietnamese minister hoped that the two sides would discuss ways to step up collaboration in the fields of shared concern and interest.

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, for her part, said Australia-ASEAN ties are growing to cope with challenges of the era and reflect ASEAN’s central role.

According to the Australian minister, ASEAN plays an important role in turning the Indo-Pacific into one of the most prosperous regions in the world with continuous successes in dialogue promotion and peaceful settlement of disputes.

At the meeting, ASEAN ministers lauded Australia’s capacity in the fields of training, United Nations peacekeeping missions, and military medicine, as well as its contributions within the ADMM Plus framework, especially its role as co-chair of the ADMM Plus Experts’ Group on Peacekeeping Operations for the 2017-2020 period along with Indonesia.

They also expressed full support for Australia’s and Brunei’s role as co-chairs of the ADMM Plus Experts’ Group on Military Medicine for the 2020-2023 period, and welcomed Australia’s enhanced cooperation with ASEAN via the ADMM Plus mechanism in the near future.

The ASEAN side also highly valued Australia’s initiative to build the 2020 Vision Statement on Defence Cooperation with ASEAN

ASEAN now groups 10 member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam./.