Intensifying efforts in building the ASEAN Community and ways to solve common security challenges in the East Sea were the main focus of the 28th Asia-Pacific Roundtable’s June 4 discussion sessions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

At the session on ASEAN issue, Singaporean High Commissioner to Malaysia Ong Keng Yong stressed the importance of building a region of connectivity, sustainability, competitiveness, peace and prosperity.

Ong, who is former ASEAN Secretary General, said ASEAN member countries need to have strong enough political will in order to ensure the progress of establishing the community by 2015, narrow development gap among member states, strengthen connectivity both within and outside the bloc, and boost culture cooperation and people-to-people exchange.

During the session on East Sea security, participants looked at how to set up mechanisms at sea to promote coordination in dealing with trans-national crime and threats to the maritime environment such as over-exploitation of marine resources and oil spill incidents.

How to ensure navigation safety and strengthen cooperation in search and rescue activities in the East Sea also caught their interest.

Prof. Carl Thayer from the Australian Defence Force Academy suggested ASEAN member countries set up an effective security-political council and, together with China, continue implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and working for the forming of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea.

Talking with Vietnam News Agency correspondents on the sidelines of the roundtable, he said that through diplomatic channels, ASEAN leaders should voice deep concern over the developments recently in the East Sea and requesting China to conduct talks and negotiations.

He also said ASEAN should called for all related parties to maintain the status quo, restrain themselves and uphold the essential principles of not using force or threatening to use force, as well as strictly obey international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.-VNA