Solidarity should be among ASEAN’s core priorities: official hinh anh 1Delegates to ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (Photo: VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to consider solidarity, unity, and its central role as core priorities orienting all of its activities.

ASEAN member countries should closely coordinate and support each other to promote creativity, assist startups, and develop high-quality human resources amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the official said while addressing the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat that concluded in Thailand on January 18.

Given the complex developments of the East Sea situation and increasing militarisation in the area, Minh urged ASEAN to maintain its solidarity and common voice. Doing so would contribute to regional peace, stability, and security on the basis of reached principles covering self-restraint, zero militarization, and full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), towards an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS).

During the two-day retreat, ministers reviewed the building of the ASEAN Community and discussed the realisation of the outcomes from the 33rd ASEAN Summit that took place last November, according to a press statement issued following the event.

More than 80 percent of ASEAN’s action lines have been implemented while the 10-member group’s combined economy grew at over 5 percent during 2018.

The ASEAN is looking to take various measures, including the initiative to build networks of smart cites and cybersecurity, in order to adapt to intensive and extensive impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The ministers also reached a consensus on ASEAN’s 2019 theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, and agreed to carry out a range of initiatives in different cooperation areas.

Accordingly, the member countries will step up efforts to ensure peace and security sustainably, and effectively cope with non-traditional security challenges.

At the same time, ASEAN will increase communications work, people-to-people exchange, and social welfare, while consolidating its capacity for combating natural disasters.

ASEAN stands ready to enhance comprehensive cooperation with its partners; carry forward its central role; and build an open, transparent, and inclusive regional architecture based on international laws.

The ministers consented that ASEAN needs to regularly discuss the East Sea issue, and noted their concerns over reclamation work and other activities that have eroded trust, increased tensions, and harmed regional peace and security.

They agreed to push ahead with negotiations of the COC in an effective and efficient manner, including the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text in 2019.

They also agreed to continue assisting Myanmar in stabilising the life of locals in Rakhine state, and welcomed positive developments on the Korean Peninsula.

ASEAN groups together 10 member nations of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. –VNA