January 31, 2024
VIENTIANE — Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn suggested the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) enhance digital, infrastructure, institution and people-to-people connectivity, while addressing the ASEAN Foreign Ministers (AMM)’ Retreat that opened in Luang Prabang city, Laos, on Monday.
ASEAN should work to raise its intra-bloc trade and investment, turning itself into an epicentre of growth, he said, noting cooperation strategies to 2045 need an inclusive, comprehensive, and creative approach.
On this occasion, the minister invited countries to attend an ASEAN forum on rapid and sustainable development with the people taken as the centre to be hosted by Việt Nam.
The forum, also initiated by Việt Nam, aims to create a platform for officials, experts, and scholars to exchange views and make policy recommendations regarding ASEAN development, connectivity, and cooperation.
Sơn affirmed Việt Nam’s support for Laos’s ASEAN Chairmanship, and that the country will participate in and contribute to upcoming events like the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne, Australia, and the 24th EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Belgium.
The official also proposed ASEAN maintain its solidarity and consensus, and uphold its independence and self-reliance.
Minister Sơn and other delegates reiterated ASEAN’s common principled stance on the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea), and called on the grouping to persistently support Myanmar.
ASEAN needs to maintain a balanced and objective approach, and raise its position and voice on issues relating to peace, security, stability and sustainable development in the region and beyond, he continued.
The participating ministers pledged to back and coordinate during the implementation of ASEAN priorities with the two central elements of “self-reliance” and “connectivity”.
They agreed with directions to accelerate the recovery and connection of economies, and consented to focus on sustainable and inclusive development, foster digital transformation, strengthen the capacity of the health system, protect the environment, respond to climate change, enhance culture and art cooperation, and promote the role and contributions of women and children.
The ministers expressed their wish to build the East Sea of peace, stability, cooperation, and prosperity, and committed to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), towards a substantive, effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). — VNS