Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called on ASEAN member states to make greater efforts to shape a common voice in major issues of regional and international concern.

By doing so, the position, role and say of ASEAN on the international stage will be heightened, PM Dung emphasised in his speech delivered to the plenary session of the 21 st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Phenh , Cambodia , on November 18.

He thanked ASEAN state leaders for approving Vietnam ’s nomination of Deputy Foreign Minister, Le Luong Minh, to ASEAN Secretary General for the 2013-17 period.
Dung said he is confident that the experienced, enthusiastic and dedicated minister will continue the accomplishments made by present ASEAN Secretary General, Surin Pitsuwan, for ASEAN’s effective operation.
He told other leaders that ASEAN reaped an array of positive outcomes in the course of building its common community. He cited the fulfilment of 72 percent of targets set for the shaping of an ASEAN Economic Community, an important pillar that will support the ASEAN community.

However, there is still a mountain of challenges before the job is done, he said.

According to PM Dung, ASEAN needs to remain united and defend its central role when orientating the settlement of issues concerning its interests and cooperation focus - an important condition for the successful building of an ASEAN community by 2015.

The group also needs to press ahead with its Community building roadmap set for 2009-15 and ramp up the implementation of free trade agreements with its partners before talks commence on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The focus is required to narrow the development gap in the group, stimulate equal and sustainable development and improve the region’s competitiveness, Dung said.

He urged the group to cultivate its leading role to enhance dialogues, build trust, share code of conduct standards, and utilise political and security cooperation tools, such as TAC, DOC and ASEAN’s six-point principle on the East Sea.

PM Dung underlined the creation of a Code of Conduct and further acceleration of cooperation in dealing with non-traditional security issues and emerging challenges like terrorism, trans-national crimes, water resource security, security, and maritime safety.

To build the ASEAN Social-cultural Community, priority should be given to promoting equal development, safeguarding social security, protecting the environment, responding to climate change and managing natural and human-made disasters, he said.

He proposed that ASEAN should boost cooperation in social welfare and services for vulnerable groups in 2013 and work together to organise ASEAN relief aid exercises - which will be put on the ASEAN Action Plan on Climate Change Response.

PM Dung welcomed ASEAN’s adoption of an ASEAN Statement on Human Rights - the first political document of the group that looks to enhance human rights cooperation in the region. It will adhere to goals and principles outlined in the ASEAN Charter, and contribute to materialising the people-centred ASEAN community.

Regarding ASEAN connectivity, he urged the leaders of ASEAN member countries to issue specific instructions in the field, given that only 37 percent of the set targets have been fulfilled.

Dung proposed mobilising every resource, in and outside ASEAN to realise the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which was designed to connect not only materials and infrastructure but institutions and people.

In his speech, the PM welcomed and highly valued the organisation of ASEAN’s global dialogue in anticipation of the Summit , saying it is an opportunity for ASEAN to gain support from international financial institutions to turn regional integration goals into reality. Dung said he will attend the event.

He congratulated Brunei on taking Chair of ASEAN in 2013 and pledged to work closely with the country for the success of its chairmanship.

Outside of the summit PM Dung met with Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong.

The two PMs discussed measures to strengthen bilateral ties, especially in economics, trade and investment.

They expressed their pleasure of the increase in successful Singaporean-invested projects in Vietnam .

The two leaders agreed to work closely to celebrate the 40 th anniversary of their bilateral diplomatic ties in 2013.

On this occasion, PM Lee affirmed that he will pay an official visit to Vietnam during which the two sides will sign a declaration on the establishment of their strategic partnership.

He also invited PM Dung to attend the Shangri-La dialogue in mid-2013.

On regional and international issues, the two PMs shared the view that peace and stability in the East Sea is significant to the development of the region.

ASEAN countries should be united and share a common view point on the basis of the ASEAN six-point principle on the East Sea , implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and build the Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea .

PM Lee expressed his pleasure that Vietnam has positively participated in the Trans Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations, and affirmed that Singapore will continue to support and work closely with Vietnam during the process.-VNA