ASEAN foreign ministers fret over Korean Peninsula situation

ASEAN foreign ministers issued yesterday a statement expressing grave concern over the escalation of tension in the Korean Peninsula, urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint to de-escalate the tension.
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh attends the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Manila.
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh attends the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Manila.

“ASEAN is mindful that instability in the Korean Peninsula seriously impacts the region and beyond,” the statement said, urging the DPRK to comply with its obligations arising from all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and international laws.

They also called for the resumption of dialogue on the Korean Peninsula to defuse tensions and create conditions conducive to peace and stability.

The Korean Peninsula situation was one of the main issues tabled at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the 15th meeting of the ASEAN Political-Security Community Council, and the 19th meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council in Manila, the Philippines, on April 28. These events reviewed preparations for the 30th ASEAN Summit today.

Another outstanding issue discussed at the meetings was the East Sea. ASEAN foreign ministers reiterated resolve to accelerate the building of a framework for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea so as to attain a substantive, effective code in line with international law.

The ministers stressed that amidst the complicated international and regional context, especially tensions in the Korean Peninsula and militarisation in the East Sea, ASEAN needs to keep a strong common voice and bring into play its role, contributing to peace and stability in the region and the world.

Speaking at the meetings, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh shared other countries’ viewpoint on the tensions. He affirmed that ASEAN needs to take a sober, impartial and consistent approach.

The bloc should consolidate its internal strength, solidarity and unanimity, increase co-ordination of their stance, and build a common voice for ASEAN on issues of shared concern. It also "needs to enhance its central role in ASEAN-led mechanisms and encourage big countries’ balanced and constructive participation in the region", he said.

He added the association "needs to enhance people’s engagement in the building of the ASEAN Community and make use of every contribution to the community’s development".

Regarding the East Sea issue, Minh shared other countries’ concern about complex developments in the waters, including reclamation and militarisation activities.

He emphasised that "all countries are responsible for contributing to peace, stability, security and safety of navigation and overflight in the East Sea". Countries must be committed to settling disputes by peaceful means on the basis of respect for international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, along with diplomatic and legal processes in the region. They also must not use or threaten to use force.

Deputy PM Minh welcomed the continued efforts made by ASEAN and China to seriously and fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and build an effective COC.

The 30th ASEAN Summit will officially open at the Philippine International Convention Centre in Manila on April 29. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will lead the Vietnamese delegation to the event.

Meeting with counterparts

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh held separate meetings with top diplomats of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia on the sidelines of the 30th ASEAN Summit and related meetings in Manila yesterday.

During a meeting with Philippine Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo, the two officials lauded the time-honoured co-operation between Vietnam and the Philippines.

They agreed to promote high-level visits as well as a ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Committee for Bilateral Cooperation this year, and enhance ties in marine issues, including fighting piracy.

Meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, the two ministers discussed boosting bilateral ties and holding the sixth session of the Vietnam-Malaysia Joint Committee for Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation as well as the implementation of signed agreements.

Minh urged Malaysia to fairly judge the case related to Vietnamese citizen Đoan Thi Huong and ensure her rights.

While meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, the two sides agreed to increase high-level visits and accelerate negotiations on the demarcation of the exclusive economic zones in waters.

They agreed to implement the outcomes of the seventh session of the Vietnam-Indonesia Joint Committee for Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation in a bid to reach US$10 billion in two-way trade by 2018.

The sides also agreed to enhance co-operation to maintain ASEAN’s central role and unity as well as peace and stability in the East Sea. They stressed the need to continue working together closely in ASEAN to finalise a Code of Conduct in the East Sea and ensure its effectiveness.

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