A Vietnamese delegation led by Tran Duc Loi, Vice President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations, has participated in the 7 th ASEAN People’s Forum (APF-7), which opened in Jakarta , Indonesia on May 3.

The three-day forum, which drew the participation of over 1,300 delegates from people’s organisations of 10 ASEAN member nations and several regional organisations, continues to pursue goals of speeding up inter-ASEAN integration and building an ASEAN towards the people and the ASEAN Community in 2015.

The Vietnamese delegation’s message at APF-7 focused on preventing arms races and protecting peace and stability in the region, especially in the East Sea; worries about projects to build hydropower dams on the Mekong River; and the struggle for justice for millions of Vietnamese AO victims.

In an interview with the Jakarta-based Vietnam News Agency correspondent, Loi stressed the significance and objectives of APF-7, saying that it aimed to strengthen mutual understanding and share experiences among people in ASEAN member countries.

APF-7 offered an opportunity for people to express their aspirations to government leaders, he said, adding that the results of the forum would be included in a joint statement to be submitted to the upcoming 18 th ASEAN Summit.

Loi pointed out that the region’s rapid economic development was accompanied by climate change and environmental devastation and expressed concern over the building of hydropower dams on the Mekong River as it may cause unpredictable impacts on biodiversity and the lives of millions of people residing in the lower reaches of the river.

“ Vietnam calls for concerned countries’ close cooperation and goodwill to protect the Mekong River , for the interests of the people, food security and the environment in the river’s lower areas,” he said.

After the opening ceremony, the first plenary session, themed “Tendencies and Challenges in ASEAN” was held.

Representatives of ASEAN people’s organisations will meet with ASEAN countries’ leaders on May 7, one day after the opening of the ASEAN Summit.

Since starting in Malaysia in 2005, APF has become an annual activity that draws strong attention from people in ASEAN countries./.