Joint statement shows ASEAN’s responsiveness to non-traditional security challenges hinh anh 1The ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat takes place in Hanoi on February 19 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A joint statement on defence cooperation against disease outbreaks issued at the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM Retreat) demonstrated the members’ responsiveness to non-traditional security challenges, especially amid the spread of COVID-19 that no country can singlehandedly deal with.

The comment was made by Maj. Gen. Vu Tien Trong, Director of the Institute for Defence International Relations under the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence, following the ADMM Retreat that took place in Hanoi on February 19.

Trong said the statement was high valued by not only ASEAN countries but also the bloc’s partners in the ADMM Plus mechanism. Meanwhile, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi said the statement was agreed on in a remarkably short space of time, less than two days.

This shows ASEAN defence ministers’ acumen and responsiveness, thus meeting ASEAN people’s expectation that this epidemic will be contained soon, Trong noted.

Lt. Gen. Vu Chien Thang, Director of the Defence Ministry’s Department for External Relations, said the joint statement was a result of Vietnam’s substantive contributions to the ADMM Retreat. 

Facing the COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry’s agencies have actively consulted with other countries about the statement. In particular, Singapore and Cambodia voiced their wish to co-sponsor the initiative, he said.

At the meeting, participating countries spoke highly of Vietnam’s proposal on the ASEAN defence ministers’ joint statement on defence cooperation against disease outbreaks, Thang said, adding that the declaration shows the ministers’ high consensus in promoting substantive intra-bloc cooperation on the basis of ASEAN initiatives and mechanisms like the ASEAN Centre of Military Medicine and a meeting of ASEAN chemical, biological and radiological defence experts.

This illustrates the responsiveness to emerging challenges and also matches the theme “Cohesive and Responsive” for Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, he said.

Also at the ADMM Retreat, the defence ministers once again stressed the importance of mechanisms within the framework of ASEAN defence-military cooperation, especially the ADMM Plus that turns 10 this year, Thang said.

He added they underlined the significance of ASEAN cooperation in counter-terrorism, particularly via information sharing, along with the bloc’s solidarity and unanimity as superpowers compete for marine control in the region. The officials also highlighted the need for the settlement of issues through peaceful means while supporting the building of a substantive and effective code of conduct in the East Sea./.