The ASEAN Foreign Ministers reached a high consensus on the bloc’s viewpoint on the East Sea issue at their meetings on April 10-11, agreeing that the matter is the bloc’s mutual concern as it relates to peace, stability and security in the entire region.

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh has recounted the outcomes of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, the 9th ASEAN Politics-Security Community Council Meeting and the ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting in Brunei during an interview he granted to the press.

He said at these meetings, the FMs reiterated the bloc’s common principles of ensuring peace, stability, maritime security and safety, and peaceful settlement of disputes.

These also include the respect for international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the early achievement of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea .

The ministers laid special emphasis on the need for the group to continue uniting and further bringing into full play their centrality to uphold these common principles.

According the Vinh, the ministers all highlighted the serious respect and implementation of commitments relating to the East Sea issue, especially the Declaration on Six-point Principles on the East Sea , and the ASEAN-China joint statement on the 10 th anniversary of DOC signing.

They committed to soon having the COC to ensure peace, stability and security in the East Sea in a better and more efficient manner and agreed to assign ASEAN senior officials to actively consult China so as negotiations on the COC can start early.

On this occasion, the ministers voiced their support and high evaluation of the active role and contributions made by Brunei in its capacity as ASEAN Chair 2013 and by Thailand as a coordinator for ASEAN-China relations to promoting ASEAN principles and the COC.

They agreed with and supported the ASEAN Chair – Brunei – to issue a press release on the East Sea issue.

Present at these meetings, Vietnam closely worked with Brunei , Thailand and other ASEAN member countries to ensure the group’s common voice heard and its leadership maintained while effectively implementing ASEAN’s goals and principles on the East Sea .

Vietnam strongly backed the group’s Declaration on Six-point Principles on the East Sea, as well as peace, stability, and maritime security and safety in the East Sea, peaceful resolution of disputes without using force, the respect for international law and the UNCLOS, the full implementation of the DOC and the early conclusion of the COC.

The Vietnamese delegation to these events, led by Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, made important contributions to ASEAN’s common prioritised focuses, preserving and intensifying ASEAN unity and promoting the group’s external relations.

Besides the East Sea issue and other regional matters of mutual concern, the ASEAN foreign ministers agreed on the bloc’s prioritised orientations for 2013.

Accordingly, ASEAN needs to enhance solidarity and further promote their leading role in addressing major issues regarding peace, security, stability and development in the region.

The group need to continue its efforts to enhance dialogues, build trust and share code of conduct standards while deploying political and security cooperation tools including the Treaty and Cooperation (TAC), the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), the DOC, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

At the same time, the bloc should uphold its central role in the evolving regional architecture as well as within regional cooperation frameworks such as ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, the Eat Asia Summit and the ARF.-VNA