ASEAN, partners seek to expand defence cooperation hinh anh 1The informal meeting between ASEAN defence ministers and their Japanese counterpart (Source: VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) - ASEAN defence ministers and their counterparts from China, Japan and the US held informal meetings on November 17, in the framework of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM Retreat) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono affirmed that Japan supports the central role played by ASEAN in regional cooperation mechanisms, and wants to tap opportunities to further cooperate effectively with the bloc based on the needs of each side.

Japan pledges to help ASEAN improve its capacity, especially in technology, he said, adding that his country will continue to expand cooperation between the two sides on the basis of the upgraded “Vientiane Vision”.

ASEAN defence ministers highlighted the increasing relations in many fields between the group and Japan in recent time, while praising efforts and support from the Japanese side for maintaining ASEAN’s central role in the region.

They hoped that through cooperation, Japan will continuously contribute to enhancing peace, stability and security in the region.

Meanwhile, Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe affirmed that his country treasures cooperation with ASEAN, saying that defence ties between the two sides are growing.

The ASEAN defence ministers took note of remarkable outcomes of the ASEAN-China cooperation, practically contributing to building trust between the two sides, citing as examples the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise 2018 and the first China-ASEAN Middle-Aged and Young Military Officers Friendly Exchange in 2019.

They also welcomed the positive results of the negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

In the informal meeting with the US Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, ASEAN’s defence officers applauded the US’s active participation in ASEAN-led cooperation mechanisms, especially ADMM . They hailed the US’s efforts in promoting defence cooperation with ASEAN over the past time, and highly appreciated the successful organisation of the first ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise in 2019.

For his part, Esper reaffirmed his country’s commitment to a free and open Indo Pacific, on the basis of respect for international law, and independence and sovereignty of all countries.

Vietnam’s Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich attended all the informal meetings.

Also on November 17, Minister Lich had bilateral meetings with the defence ministers of Australia, Brunei, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, during which they affirmed their support for Vietnam's Ministry of National Defence to successfully organize defence - military activities in 2020 – the year Vietnam will undertake the ASEAN Chair position./.