Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh (second right) attends the 11th Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore yesterday. – VNA/VNS Photo
SINGAPORE – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh, and Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Vijay Kumar Singh co-chaired the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore on Friday within the framework of the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
Minh and Singh showed delight at the progress of the implementation of agreements reached during the summit as well as the outcome of the Plan of Action in the 2016-2020 period with specific activities in various fields from politics-security to economy, culture-society, and people-to-people exchange.
ASEAN countries lauded India’s strengthening of its “Act East” policy aiming to foster a partnership with the association and the region, hailing the role and contributions of India to peace, stability and co-operation, and highly valued India’s support to the ASEAN’s central role as well as active engagement in regional co-operation forums chaired by the ASEAN.
Singh said ASEAN is one of the key pillars in its external policies, and an important contact point between the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions. The country is committed to promoting close ties with ASEAN and actively supporting the bloc in building its community and strengthening regional connectivity.
Regarding orientations to promote the ASEAN-India relations in the future, the ministers agreed to forge stronger comprehensive co-operation in maritime matters; trade and investment facilitation with a target of US$200 billion in 2025; and connectivity between the two regions in both infrastructure and human resources.
The two sides will expand cooperation in creative areas such as information technology, digital economy, smart urban development, while working more closely in education, cultural exchange, people-to-people contact, which will help strengthen mutual understanding.
The ministers agreed to name 2019 the ASEAN-India Tourism Year.
On the regional and international matters, ASEAN and India shared concerns about developments in the East Sea (South China Sea) with militarisation activities eroding trust and harming peace and stability in the region.
They highlighted the significance of maintaining peace, stability, maritime and aviation security, safety and freedom in regional seas, including the East Sea, while underscoring that all disputes must be settled through peaceful measures in line with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.
They showed hope for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and encouraged efforts to build an effective and binding Code of Conduct (COC).
Lower Mekong meeting
On the same day, Minh attended the 11th Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, saying that the LMI was one of the leading sub-regional mechanisms on facilitating sustainable and inclusive development.
Minh called for stronger co-operation to enhance agricultural output, improve the agriculture sector’s capacity of coping with climate change and expanding farm produce markets.
Further attention should be paid to water resource security, energy and food, especially in disaster risk mitigation, environmental protection and biodiversity, he said, adding that the LMI should help Mekong countries enhance its capacity of sustainably managing trans-border water resources, adopt new technologies to assess projects’ impacts on the environment, and build an early forecasting system for droughts and floods.
At the meeting, the Foreign Ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Việt Nam and the US, hailed the LMI co-operation as an important driving force for connectivity, economic integration, sustainable development and good governance in the Mekong sub-region.
The meeting adopted a joint statement, a document on LMI restructure and a LMI Action Plan for the 2016-2020 period.
The LMI and Mekong River Commission (MRC) countries adopted a joint statement on strengthening management of water resource data and sharing information in the Lower Mekong.
Việt Nam, China to strengthen ties
Minh and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday agreed to continue reinforcing and strengthening the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between Việt Nam and China.
During their meeting in Singapore, the two sides pledged to actively solve existing problems in co-operation projects, and maintain the stable and positive development trend of bilateral partnership.
On the East Sea issue, Minh made it clear that it is necessary to solve the disputes in the sea through peaceful measures in conformity with international law, especially the UNCLOS, as well as the strict implementation of common perception of leaders of the two countries.
He also stressed the need to control the differences, refrain from any action that complicates the situation and escalates disputes, along with the full and effective implementation of the DOC as well as reaching the effective and binding COC at an early date.
Minh also met with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini during which he urged the EU to consider removing the “yellow card” warning on Vietnamese seafood as soon as possible.
The Deputy PM said that Việt Nam had been working to deal with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
During a bilateral meeting with DPRK Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong Ho, Minh applauded the positive progress on the Korean peninsula, especially the outcomes reached at recent summits between the DPRK, and the Republic of Korea and the United States.
Ri confirmed the DPRK’s commitment to the denuclearisation process on the Korean peninsula. — VNS
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