The three-day defence forum between ASEAN and the US concluded on April 4 (Vietnam time) in Honolulu island, Hawaii state, agreeing that cooperation between two sides is necessary to cope with non-traditional challenges.

Addressing the following press conference, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the forum, the first ever held in the US, offered a great opportunity for the two sides to further intensify their partnership in order to effectively deal with new challenges.

Hagel said during the event, the two sides agreed that natural disaster is closely related to security in the 21 st century, requiring all countries, including both the US and ASEAN, to enhance connection.

Defence ministers also discussed a number of issues, such as maritime cooperation and measures to solve tensions in the East Sea.

The US official called on all parties which claim their sovereignty over the East Sea to respect international law and codes of conduct.

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency’s correspondents, Vietnamese Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh stressed the need to organise this kind of forum to strengthen coordination in coping with non-traditional challenges, such as rescue activities and the solving of natural calamity consequences.

He said the East Sea issue continues to be a pressing issue that has been continuously mentioned at the bloc’s conferences in the common spirit of maintaining stability and maritime security and solving disputes by diplomatic means with respect to international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, ASEAN’s Six-point Principles on the East Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea.

He also stated that at this forum, the Vietnamese side suggested the US increase the sharing of information and provide technical assistance to help ASEAN member countries enhance their capacity of coping with natural disasters and conducting search and rescue operations.

Vietnam has actively participated in the joint efforts, especially those helping the Philippines overcome the consequences of Typhoon Haiyan last year and the recent search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH730.-VNA