Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung joined other ASEAN leaders to discuss an expanded East Asia Summit (EAS) and measures to strengthen ASEAN’s foreign relations and improve the bloc’s role in the international arena in a retreat meeting in Jakarta , Indonesia on May 8.

Regarding the EAS, the ASEAN leaders reaffirmed the objectives, principles, mechanisms and priorities of the EAS recorded in the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the EAS in 2005 and the Hanoi Declaration marking the 5 th founding anniversary of the EAS in 2010.

They applauded ASEAN foreign ministers’ recommendation on inviting Russian and US leaders to join the 6 th EAS later this year.

About ASEAN’s foreign relations, the leaders praised positive progresses in the relationship between ASEAN and its partners, especially specific results in the year Vietnam assumed the ASEAN Chair 2010.

They also agreed to step up efforts to deepen ASEAN’s relations with outside partners through cooperation frameworks and mechanisms such as ASEAN+1 (ASEAN with each dialogue partner), ASEAN+3 (ASEAN with China , Japan and the Republic of Korea ), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the EAS.

For the theme of the 18 th ASEAN Summit “ASEAN Community in a Global Community”, the leaders agreed that while giving the highest priority and resources to its goals of building community, expanding partnership and maintaining its central role in the shaping regional structure, ASEAN should actively consult and share information, and boost coordination, especially in issues of common benefits, to further promote its role and voice in the international arena.

Regarding the East Sea issue and the Declaration on Conducts of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC), the ASEAN leaders affirmed that peace, security and stability in the East Sea , including maritime security and safety, are common interests of all nations. Every dispute over sovereignty in the East Sea should be solved among concerned parties through peaceful solutions on the basis of abiding by international law, including the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982. The good performance of the DOC will help decide the maintenance of peace, stability, maritime security and safety in the East Sea .

ASEAN supports the early completion of guiding principles for the implementation of the DOC and the building of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in 2012 on the occasion of the 10 th anniversary of the DOC, they said.

The ASEAN leaders also stressed the importance of strengthening solidarity and coordination in parallel with fostering dialogues and cooperation with China to fully and effectively realise the DOC.

About the Thailand-Cambodia situation, the ASEAN leaders expressed wish that the two countries will address their conflicts peacefully in line with the spirit of ASEAN solidarity reflected in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), and the ASEAN Charter.

They spoke highly of the contributions made by Indonesia as ASEAN Chair to border dispute reconciliation between Thailand and Cambodia .

Also at the meeting, the ASEAN leaders agreed in principle Myanmar ’s proposal on its assumption of ASEAN Chair in 2014.

Relating to Timor Leste’s proposal to join ASEAN, the leaders agreed that more time is needed for both ASEAN and Timor Leste to prepare for this affair.

ASEAN foreign ministers were entrusted to consider thoroughly all aspects before submitting this issue to the ASEAN leaders.

ASEAN pledged to further accelerate regional cooperation in coping with challenges, especially climate change, natural disaster management, food and energy security.

At the meetings during the 18 th ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung stressed that the expansion of the EAS aims to maintain ASEAN’s central role in the expanded EAS in particular and in the shaping regional structure in general.

Dung stated that countries should take advantage of the expansion of the EAS to improve their roles and serve the best ASEAN’s interests as well as pay due attention to aspirations and interests of partners in the EAS, ensuring that the expanded EAS will become an important factor of the regional structure in which ASEAN plays a central role, making more practical and effective contributions to ensuring and fostering peace, security cooperation and development in the region.

The Vietnamese government leader suggested ASEAN continue strengthening solidarity, promoting internal strength and giving the highest priority and resources to the community building goal as well as regional priorities.

“ASEAN should expand partnership and maintain its central role in the shaping regional structure for peace, stability and cooperation in the region,” he said, adding this is a foundation and internal strength for ASEAN to promote its role in the international arena.

Regarding sustainable development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), PM Dung suggested further cooperation in coping with climate change and boosting sustainable development, especially in the reasonable and sustainable exploitation and use of water resource.

He said that the exploitation and use of Mekong River water resource, particularly the building of works on the main stream of the Mekong River , should firstly ensure residents’ interests and the sustainable development of all riverside countries, especially the lower areas .

“This requires not only a close cooperation between five ASEAN countries and China , but also a coordination in thorough scientific research on impacts on the environment,” Dung stressed.

On the same day, PM Dung had separate meetings with the President of the host country, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino and Myanmar President Thein Sein./.