The 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF 19) took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on July 12 with the participation of 10 ASEAN members and the bloc’s important partners.

Foreign ministers attending the forum stressed the need to strengthen regional efforts for common goals of peace, security, cooperation and development in the region.

According to the ministers, in the context that the region still has to face complicated developments as well as both traditional and non-traditional security challenges, ASEAN and ARF should show their active role, especially in pushing up the observance of international law principles and standards, increasing dialogues and trust building, and peacefully settling the disputes without using violence.

ASEAN and ARF should also uphold the role of political-security cooperation tools in the region, such as the Treaty on Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ), the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), ARF and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), for regional peace, stability, security and cooperation.

For the future of ARF, participants stressed the forum needs to continue to effectively implement the Hanoi Plan of Action to Implement the ARF Vision Statement 2020 and other cooperation areas, including disaster management, anti-terrorism and transnational crimes, marine security, non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons and disarmament.

They said ARF should turn cooperation to a new development period with combination of trust building and preventive diplomacy for peace, stability and cooperation in the region.

The ministers stressed that ARF is an important part of the regional architecture, connects and supplements other regional processes, such as ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit (EAS), ADMM+, in which ASEAN plays a central role.

They also exchanged views on regional issues of common concern, including the situation in Myanmar and the Korean peninsular.

They hailed the recent developments in Myanmar and the Government’s efforts to develop the country and unite the people as well as foreign countries’ improvement of diplomatic ties with Myanmar.

They also proposed early removal of embargos on Myanmar and agreed that they will continue to help Myanmar strengthen its international integration as well as relations with international community.

Regarding the issue of Korean peninsular, the parties hope for a peninsular of peace, stability and free from nuclear weapons.

They asked for the implementation of related Resolutions of the UN Security Council and soon resumption of the six-party talks, and affirmed that ARF is willing to make contributions to creating a favorable environment for concerned parties to hold dialogues and constructive exchanges.

The same day, the second East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting took place in Phnom Penh.

At the meeting, the ministers discussed issues which are of strategic importance to the region, reviewed and set forth EAS operations in the future.

They said EAS has become an important element in the emerging regional architecture and affirmed that EAS continues to be a forum of leaders to exchange issues of strategic importance relating to regional peace, security and development, including issues on politics, marine security and safety together with boosting cooperation in five prioritised areas, namely finance, energy, education, bird flu and disaster management.

The ministers also agreed to intensify cooperation in regional connectivity and linkage, sea-related cooperation, including search and rescue, marine environment, sea connectivity, and coping with arising challenges.

East Sea issue was of most concerned at both EAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the ARF 19.

Participants of many countries expressed their concern about the recent complicated developments in the East Sea , which had impacts on regional peace, stability and marine security, safety and freedom.

They stressed all concerned states had to settle disputes via peaceful means and respect international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, fully implement the DOC and soon build up the Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC) to effectively ensure peace, stability and security in the East Sea.

Also on the same day, ASEAN FMs signed a document to expand the TAC with the participation of EU and UK and paid a courtesy visit to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The ARF, founded in 1994, is a key regional forum for security dialogue in Asia. The forum was attended by 27 countries including the 10 ASEAN member states and their dialogue partners. While membership of EAS includes 10 ASEAN countries and eight dialogue partners.-VNA