Singapore stands ready to work closely with Malaysia towards the common goal of a united and strong ASEAN Community as well as exploring ways to further strengthen the bloc.

Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Law K.Shanmugam made that statement while attending the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, on January 27.

Shanmugam noted that Singapore’s priorities in the retreat are related to community-building orientations, integration targets, and the ASEAN Community’s Post 2015 Vision.

He raised the need for the bloc to strengthen disaster relief responses collectively since no single country has all resources and capabilities.

The minister also said ASEAN and China are committed to working towards the early conclusion on the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

He reminded the bloc of not overlooking a threat from the self-claiming Islamic State (IS) in the region, referring to the force’s killing of a Japanese hostage.

Established in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises ten members, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.-VNA