Solidarity, unanimity remain key factor in ASEAN activities hinh anh 1The ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on February 16 - 17. (Photo: VNA)
Phnom Penh (VNA) – ASEAN foreign ministers shared the view that solidarity and unanimity remain the key factor in the bloc’s activities while attending their meeting retreat (AMMR), held in Phnom Penh on February 16 - 17.

Talking to the press, Vu Ho, acting head of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) delegation of Vietnam, said this was the first face-to-face meeting among the ASEAN foreign ministers after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful organisation of this event reflected both the determination of Chair Cambodia and the common aspiration for resuming the close connectivity among the foreign ministers and maintaining intensive and extensive discussions about regional and international issues.

He noted ASEAN is facing a number of challenges, but the ministers discussed all the challenges straightforwardly and sincerely and identified cooperation orientations for successful response. They concluded that solidarity and unanimity remain the key factor in the ASEAN activities, calling on countries to set peace and stability as their target and dialogue and cooperation as the tool.

During this meeting, held both in person and virtually, the Vietnamese side’s ideas focused on enhancing ASEAN solidarity; promoting the Community building, economic recovery, and COVID-19 response; and expanding and intensifying the bloc’s external relations. The delegation also made thorough suggestions relevant to the emerging complicated issues like the East Sea situation, the Myanmar situation, and superpowers’ competition.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, who led the Vietnamese delegation, proposed such initiatives as the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates in the region, the effective use of the ASEAN Fund for COVID-19 Response, and the continuation of narrowing the development gap in ASEAN via sub-regional cooperation, according to Ho.

He cited Son as saying that ASEAN should have a comprehensive, balanced, and harmonious approach to its relations with the international community, especially major countries, and that while considering countries’ proposals, it should base itself on the region’s interests, put ASEAN at the centre, maintain friendly ties, and minimise impacts of countries’ differences and disputes on regional development.

With regard to the international and regional situation, the minister also delivered important remarks on the East Sea and Myanmar. Together with other foreign ministers, he reiterated ASEAN’s principled stance and stressed the importance of ensuring peace, stability, and security in the East Sea, complying with international law, resolving disputes by peaceful means, fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and soon finalising an efficient and substantive Code of Conduct in the waters that matches international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Ho noted AMMR participants also agreed to build a joint statement marking the DOC’s 20th anniversary, thereby affirming the bloc’s resolve to develop the East Sea into a sea of peace and cooperation where vessels can pass freely and safely, and on which countries can have straightforward dialogue and sincere cooperation with respect for international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

In terms of the Myanmar situation, Minister Son affirmed the country is a member of the “ASEAN family”, and its internal issues will be decided by its people. He recommended that via the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus adopted by ASEAN leaders in April, the bloc and Myanmar bring into play their cooperation and sense of responsibility towards the community, assist the ASEAN Chair’s special envoy to perform duties, and facilitate relevant parties in seeking solutions to existing differences and disputes.

The minister also highlighted Vietnam’s commitment to work closely with and support the special envoy to fulfill his duties, emphasising that ASEAN will maintain humanitarian aid for Myanmar in any circumstances, Ho added./.