A sports exchange programme took place in Hanoi on August 5 to mark the 45 th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 17 years of Vietnam’s admission to the organisation.

Entitled “Vietnam-ASEAN and partners”, the programme, which was held in Vietnam for the first time, drew the participation of 16 teams from foreign embassies in Hanoi and Vietnamese ministries with 208 athletes competing in such events as football, table tennis, tennis and badminton.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said that over the past 45 years, ASEAN has risen over many hardships and challenges to continuously develop and record important achievements, bringing benefits to all the member countries as well as actively contributing to peace, stability, security, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

ASEAN is now looking toward the formation of the ASEAN Community in 2015 on three main pillars: political-security, economics and socio-culture, he said.

In that effort, ASEAN has given the highest priority to building a people-centred community with the goals of improving the quality of life and development of people, both physically and spiritually, Vinh stressed.

The programme offered a change for countries in the region to strengthen understanding, friendship and solidarity, helping build an ASEAN of peace, stability, cooperation and development./.