In his opening remark, Minister Lich thanked ASEAN member countries for supporting Vietnam in performing its rotary Chair of ASEAN.

Lich stressed that the ADMM Retreat took place amidst complicated developments of security challenges, especially the outbreak and rapid spread of the acute respiratory disease caused by coronavirus (COVID-19). 

As ASEAN Military Medicine Chair, Vietnam proposed that member countries consider organizing drills to cope with disease outbreaks and spread in 2020, he said.

He went on to say that Brunei and Australia, as co-chairs of the ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on Military Medicine during 2020-2023, are encouraged to include the response to disease outbreaks in field exercises during the three-year working programme.

Vietnam also called for partner countries in the ADMM Plus mechanism to enhance their cooperation in raising ASEAN countries’ capacity in military medicine, especially for responding to disease outbreaks, the minister said.

According to the minister, the ADMM Retreat, which is the first high-level event during Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020, is very important in outlining the orientation for ASEAN defence cooperation in 2020 as well as in preparing for ADMM and ADMM Plus at the end of the year.

The same day, the ASEAN-Australia Defence Ministers’ informal meeting took place on the sidelines of the ADMM retreat to boost defence cooperation between the two sides through ADMM + mechanisms.

At the meeting, ASEAN defence ministers spoke highly of Australia’s capacity in training, UN peacekeeping, military medicine.

They also welcomed Australia’s contribution to the ADMM+ framework, especially in co-chairing the ADMM+ experts’ working group on peacekeeping during 2017-2020 together with Indonesia, and on Military Medicine during 2020-2023 together with Brunei.

ASEAN also appreciated Australian initiative on building a 2020 vision on defence cooperation with ASEAN. The document will contribute to orienting ASEAN-Australia defence ties in the fields of mutual concern./.