Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has reiterated Vietnam’s commitment to stay closely engaged with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the successful building of an ASEAN Community by 2015.

Speaking at the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-47) in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on August 8, Deputy PM Minh said ASEAN should maintain its momentum and central role in promoting regional economic connectivity by enhancing internal strength and deepening intra-bloc linkage.

He also stressed the need for ASEAN to effectively realise free trade agreements with partners and speed up negotiations for a regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP).

At the same time, the association should improve its capacity in dealing with non-traditional challenges such as maritime security and safety, natural disasters and epidemics, which have become frequent and seriously affect residents in the region, he said.

It is also necessary for ASEAN to inherit and promote its achievements for the shaping of a long-term vision and strategy in order to bring the grouping to a new height after 2015, he added.

Regarding the East Sea issue, Deputy PM Minh mentioned the complicated developments in the East Sea recently, especially after China illegally positioned its rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The act seriously violated international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and went against the Declaration on the Conduct of Party in the East Sea (DOC), he stressed.

He underlined the serious consequences of the incident and urged the prevention of similar complicated events. At the same time, he called for measures to ensure the full and effective implementation of the DOC while working toward an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), as well as the strict observance of international law and the UNCLOS.

Deputy PM Minh also underscored the need to settle all disputes through peaceful measures with self-restraint and refraining from using or threatening to use force.

During the AMM-47 plenary session, ASEAN foreign ministers and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh focused discussions on the implementation of the DOC and the progress of the ASEAN Community building.

They pledged highest determination to finish all remaining work so that the ASEAN Community can be established on December 31, 2015, which is considered an important foundation for the association to maintain its strong and sustainable development in the next decades, helping it continue its central role in regional cooperation processes.

The ministers also stressed the importance of ASEAN’s solidarity and common voice and responsibility towards strategic issues in the region, especially those related to peace, stability, security and development.

ASEAN should actively deploy initiatives and hasten the shaping of regional architectures based on international law and available tools and mechanisms, including the ASEAN Charter, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, the Bali Declaration, and the DOC, they said.

The ministers agreed that the strengthening of ties with dialogue countries and partners will also help optimising the association’s central role in the shaping regional architecture.

At AMM-47 retreat session, the foreign ministers share viewpoints on regional and international matters of mutual concern, including both traditional and non-traditional challenges facing the region, as well as situations in hot spots like the Korean peninsula, the Middle East and Ukraine .

They also expressed deep concern about the recent tension on the East Sea and emphasised the significance of ensuring peace, stability, maritime and aviation security, safety and freedom in the East Sea .

They highlighted the importance of abiding by international law, the UNCLOS as well as the settlement of disputes through peaceful measures without using or threatening to use force, as well as the full implementation of the DOC.

They also reaffirmed the principles stated in the ASEAN’s Six-Point Principles on the East Sea as well as the statement of ASEAN foreign ministers in May, while emphasising the need to build the COC in an early date.

The ASEAN groups ten member countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam.

Earlier the same day, the ASEAN foreign ministers and Secretary-General Le Luong Minh had a meeting with representatives from the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). They discussed AICHR’s proposal to include human rights issues in all three ASEAN pillars in 2015.

They tabled a number of joint plans of actions and made assessment on AICHR performance.

On the sidelines of the AMM-47, Deputy PM Minh had a bilateral meeting with Brunei Foreign and Trade Minister Mohamed Bolkiah to seek ways to further boost bilateral ties between the two countries.

Deputy PM Minh proposed that Vietnam and Brunei beef up cooperation in defence-security, culture, education, tourism, labour and agriculture, while stepping up the organisation of the first meeting of the Joint Committee for bilateral cooperation within 2014.

For his part, Mohamed Bolkiah shared Deputy PM Minh’s view on the importance of implementing specific measures to bolster bilateral partnership.

They also touched upon regional and international matters of mutual concern, including the East Sea issue.-VNA