Vietnam will work closely with other ASEAN countries to enhance solidarity within the bloc and add to the ASEAN Community’s strength.

This was stated by Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh at a meeting in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh , from March 3-6 to prepare the agendas and paperwork for the 20 th ASEAN Summit which is due to take place from April 3-4.

Vinh highlighted the significance of the plans to ensure the ASEAN Community is developed on the community’s three pillars which are politics-security, economy and social-culture.

He stressed on the need to develop the bloc’s infrastructure and strengthen relations with its partners to build a prosperous community.

He said that ASEAN needs to uphold its proactive role in an evolving regional architecture and work with others to deal with global challenges such the economic downturn, natural disasters, climate change, maritime security and epidemics.

He pointed out the advantages of the current cooperative mechanisms in the region, including the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ), the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministerial Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

He congratulated Cambodia on becoming the ASEAN chair for 2012, pledging that Vietnam will help the country to fulfill its duties.

The three day meeting gathered a host of senior ASEAN officials in charge of economics, security and culture.

The meeting also reviewed the steps taken to develop human resources as well as discussing macroeconomic and financial policies. Also high on the agenda was upgrading the infrastructure, enhancing regional communications and freeing up the movement of goods, services, investment, labour and capital throughout the region by 2015.

Regarding security issues, a regional Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea was discussed and Vinh underlined the need to continue with efforts to ensure peace, stability, security and maritime safety and address any disputes through dialogue while respecting international laws. Also proposed was the setting up of an ASEAN Institute for Peace and Recommendation and the draft of a treaty to ensure Southeast Asia remains a nuclear weapon free zone.

On the socio-cultural issues, they reviewed a paper on small and medium sized cultural enterprises, the arts, an ASEAN TV channel, migrant workers, drugs, climate change, and women and children issues./.