Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh proposed European Union (EU) members beef up cooperation with ASEAN in coping with challenges of non-traditional security, climate change, mitigation of natural disasters, Mekong sub-region water source security, energy and maritime security.

FM Minh made the proposals at the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan , Brunei , on April 26 and 27.

Minh spoke highly of the importance and active results of cooperation between ASEAN and the EU over the past 35 years.

He said ASEAN and the EU should elevate cooperation in implementing the action programme for the 2013-2017 period in economic, trade, political, security and socio-cultural fields in an effective and comprehensive manner as well as in building the community, science, technology, education and tourism sectors.

He said he hopes the EU will share its experiences with ASEAN and encourage the latter’s businesses to take part in implementing the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan on traffic infrastructure development.

Regarding economics, FM Minh emphasised that ASEAN and the EU should actively implement the ASEAN-EU trade and investment work programme and speed up negotiations on free trade agreements between EU and ASEAN members to maintain the growth rate in trade and investment between the two regions and overcome the difficulties of the global financial and economic crisis.

He suggested ASEAN dialogue partners contribute to ASEAN’s joint efforts to promote peace, security and cooperation in the region.

The Vietnamese FM underscored the significance of cooperation in the region for peace, stability and maritime security and safety and peaceful settlement of disputes based on respect for international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Vietnam is actively preparing for assuming the role of coordinator for ASEAN-EU dialogue relations in July 2012, the FM said, affirming that Vietnam will exert its utmost to closely cooperate with other countries in elevating ASEAN-EU cooperative relations to a new height.

On this occasion, FM Minh had bilateral meetings with the EU Commissioner for common foreign and security policy, FMs of the Netherlands, Denmark, Latvia, Bulgaria, Estonia, and heads of delegations of Latvia, Croatia, Slovakia, Spain, Finland, Poland to discuss ways to promote bilateral relations in various fields.

Participating ministers adopted the ASEAN-EU action plan for the 2013-2017 period, which includes giving priority to building the ASEAN community and improving its connectivity, promoting cooperation in economics and trade, coping with climate change and disaster management, water resources, energy and maritime security, and fighting transnational crime.

The EU also announced funding worth 20 million EUR to support the bloc’s integration and connectivity.

In addition to discussing the situations in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Korea peninsula, and global economic financial crisis, the participants also highlighted the importance of enhancing cooperation in ensuring maritime security on the basis of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

They also highly valued positive developments in Myanmar, with the EU embargo on the Asian country being eased and aid worth 150 million EUR, opening a new chapter in EU-Myanmar relations.-VNA