Canada’s support to ASEAN focused on bloc’s objectives: ambassador hinh anh 1Canadian Ambassador to ASEAN (Photo: Twitter)

Jakarta (VNA) - Canada’s assistance to ASEAN is focussed on the bloc’s objectives in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls, strengthening human capital; building resilience to natural disasters, and promoting peace and security, Canadian Ambassador to ASEAN Diedrah Kelly has said.

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency in Jakarta following the closing of the recently virtual ASEAN-Canada Foreign Ministerial Meeting, Ambassador Kelly said it is with this in mind that Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne announced a package totaling more than 9.1 million USD in new funding targeting ASEAN with a focus on regional priorities including strengthening democratic reforms; enhancing border security; countering migrant smuggling and cybersecurity.

Foreign ministers also adopted the new ASEAN-Canada Plan of Action for 2021-2025, which provides a solid framework to expand collaboration and cooperation between the two sides, she noted.

Kelly affirmed her country is also keen to expand its trade and investment ties with ASEAN member states, saying that Canada firmly believes an FTA would bring significant economic benefit to ASEAN and Canada, including by giving ASEAN member states a platform into the North American market.

It is necessary to underline ASEAN’s importance as a key multilateral partner and one that has never been more crucial, she stressed, adding that Canada will continue to be a constructive and engaged partner for the bloc, whether it is fighting the pandemic.

She expressed her belief that the two sides will continue to work together effectively.

According to the ambassador, as a founding member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Canadian FM also participated in the 27th ARF Ministerial Meeting.

The annual gathering is an important opportunity to exchange views on regional security concerns such as stresses on the rules-based international order, the debilitating impact of COVID-19, and tensions in the Korean Peninsula and the East Sea as examples, she said.

The meeting is not just about making statements, it is also an opportunity to take stock of the preventative diplomacy and confidence building measures that had taken place and lay the groundwork for activities in the next inter-sessional year, she said.

Canada’s security programming efforts in Southeast Asia aim to promote peace and stability, and combat threats related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear proliferation, transnational crime, and terrorism, the ambassador noted, adding that her country spent 80 million Canadian dollars on the security efforts in the last decade.

In addition to the above messages, commitments and initiatives, Canada mentioned the fight against COVID-19 and the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Ambassador Kelly said COVID-19 poses a unique and truly global challenge, it knows no borders, emphasising the need for ASEAN and Canada to work together to defeat the pandemic.

The theme of this year’s chairmanship, “Cohesive and Responsive” decided by Vietnam in its role as the ASEAN Chairman, is fitting in the face of COVID-19, she said.

The theme has proven to be more relevant than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, where AMS and partners have had to work together to overcome challenges and be responsive to the health, economic and other impacts of the pandemic.

The scope and scale of the global pandemic has tested every community, country and institution, she noted.

“It is because of Vietnam’s leadership that ASEAN has continued, despite the challenges our new environment poses (including by connecting us through online meeting platforms), implementing its Community vision 2025,” she said.

Canada is proud to have stepped up and provided strong support to ASEAN to help address the challenges posed by this pandemic, she stated./.