Minister of National Defence General Phung Quang Thanh attended the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Retreat in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on August 28.

Discussions at the Retreat focused on regional and global defence and security, especially the importance of defence cooperation towards building an ASEAN Political-Security Community by 2015.

The ministers reaffirmed their promise to cope with defence and security challenges via ADMM and ADMM Plus (ADMM+) mechanisms which, according to them, should be strengthened.

Closer links to tackle non-traditional challenges like humanitarian assistance, search and rescue and maritime security were agreed.

The ministers pointed to cyber security as a new field that needs attention. They reached a consensus on strengthening realistic measures, such as the opening of communication lines to minimise risks of incidents, especially those at sea, to build trust.

Participants shared their opinion that army-to-army stronger link is a key momentum behind defence cooperation and ASEAN’s centrality is crucial to the process of promoting ADMM+.

On the fringes of the event there was an informal ASEAN-US meeting where US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel said his country wants to work with ASEAN member nations in all fields and backs the regional cooperation mechanism in which the bloc plays a central role.

The US wants the East Sea disputes to be settled peacefully and it will make continued contributions to regional peace and stability, Hagel said.

Addressing the meeting, Minister Thanh welcomed the US’s policies that have contributed to maintaining peace and stability, and ensuring maritime security and safety in the region.

Vietnam wants the US to continue engaging in dealing with war consequences in the country, he added.
As part of the ADMM+ the same day, Minister Thanh held bilateral meetings with his US, Japanese, Republic of Korea and Malaysian counterparts.

Meeting with Chuck Hagel, Thanh stressed that Vietnam treasures comprehensive partnership with the US in various realms, including defence. He said he hopes the two nations will develop the ties for the sake of the two peoples.

Discussing concrete issues, he said Vietnam will continue implementing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Vietnam-US defence cooperation, especially surmounting the war aftermath.

Vietnam will make it easer for the US in the MIA issue and expect that the US will provide the country with more information about missing Vietnamese soldiers during the war.

Hagel vowed to continue carrying out the MoU and help Vietnam with bomb and mine clearance, detoxification and peacekeeping activities.

Meeting with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera, Minister Thanh thanked Japan for providing Vietnam with official development assistance over the past time.

He also expressed desire to nurture the defence link with Japan.

At the meeting with the RoK’s Minister of Defence Kim Kwan-ji, Minister Thanh said Vietnam wishes for a closer defence cooperation with the RoK together with more regular exchanges of delegations.

Talking to Malaysian Defence Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Husein, General Thanh shared with him the need to reinforce internal cooperation in ASEAN to maintain the grouping’s unity and strength.

He said every ASEAN member country needs to firmly defend its independence and self-reliance and not to be neither induced nor divided to weaken the grouping’s strength.

Thanh urged ASEAN member countries, on the basis of national and regional benefits, to work more closely in all fields, including defence cooperation, to turn ASEAN into a strong organisation that has an important role in regional and international security issues.

On August 29, the ASEAN defence ministers, together with senior defence officials of the eight dialogue partners, are to take part in the ADMM+.

At the first meeting in Vietnam in 2010, the ADMM+ was described as a tool to engage ASEAN Dialogue Partners in dialogue and cooperation on defence and security matters, aimed at ensuring peace, stability and development in the region and heading towards an ASEAN Community by 2015.-VNA