Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia (Photo: VNA)
Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s participation in the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in
Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 23 and 24, his first overseas trip as the
Government leader of Vietnam, has reflected the country’s great endeavour to
contribute to the bloc’s common efforts in resolving many emerging issues.
This meeting was the first
in-person event among ASEAN leaders in 2021 and after nearly 18 months ASEAN
meetings had to take place via videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with the
media after the trip, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung said the
meeting was held amid new and very complex COVID-19 outbreaks in many regional
countries. However, regional leaders were still determined to meet
face-to-face, showing the member states’ commitment and enormous efforts to
overcome difficulties and deal with urgent issues emerging.
The Vietnamese PM attended
the meeting less than 20 days after he took office, which demonstrated the
country’s proactiveness, activeness, and responsibility for regional issues.
With its stature in ASEAN,
especially after serving as Chair of the grouping in 2020 and now the only
ASEAN member in the United Nations Security Council and the Council President
for April, Vietnam’s participation and contributions were highly expected by
the international and regional community, and the Vietnamese delegation led by
PM Chinh has met that expectation.
Dung elaborated that the PM’s
opinions and proposals received support from other ASEAN leaders as they matched
the bloc’s current concerns and priorities, especially COVID-19 control,
recovery promotion, and ways to effectively respond to new matters.
The PM took the occasion to promote
the outcomes achieved during the 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship, and integrate the
issues Vietnam has interests in like the East Sea and the Mekong River ones
into ASEAN’s cooperation orientations.
He asked ASEAN to pay
attention to narrowing the development gap in sub-regions, including the Mekong
sub-region, and ensuring that no regions or areas are left behind, particularly
when COVID-19 impacts are widening the development gap in ASEAN, Dung noted.
The Vietnamese leader held
that the trust and goodwill of relevant sides should be reflected via actions
in reality and the avoidance of any move that may escalate tensions or
complicate the situation.
He emphasised that ASEAN
should sustain its principled stance on the East Sea issue, including
maintaining peace, stability, security, and safety of navigation and
overflight; complying with international law, including the 1982 United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); seriously implementing the Declaration
on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC); and soon finalising an
efficient and effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters, according to
Deputy Minister Dung.
Sharing other leaders’
viewpoints on international and regional issues of common concern, including
the Myanmar situation, PM Chinh affirmed the respect for the principle of not
intervening in other states’ internal affairs, but noted that with the spirit
of solidarity of a community, ASEAN could not neglect the issues affecting the
region’s common stability and development.
According to Deputy FM Dung,
the Vietnamese PM’s proposals about ways ASEAN can assist Myanmar have many
things in common with other ASEAN leaders’ opinions, which are sending the
bloc’s representatives to this country to learn about the situation and meet
related parties to promote dialogue and seek solutions, while augmenting
humanitarian aid for people.
Talking about efforts by
Vietnam, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and President of
the council for April, in maintaining balanced dialogue about Myanmar at the
council, the PM recommended ASEAN countries and Myanmar coordinate closely
together to join Vietnam in calling for partners to support the bloc’s role in
seeking suitable, feasible, fundamental, and substantive solutions to the
Myanmar issue, Dung went on.
On the sidelines of the
meeting, PM Chinh had a series of bilateral meetings with other ASEAN leaders,
including Indonesian President Joko Widodo (host of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting),
Bruneian Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Chair of AEAN in 2021), Cambodian PM Hun
Sen, Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong, and Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin.
He also met with heads of
other countries’ delegations like Laos, Thailand, the Philippines, and Myanmar
who congratulated Chinh on his new post and expressed their hope for his
attention to enhancing bilateral ties.
Via PM Chinh’s first
high-level diplomatic meetings with important partners in ASEAN, Vietnam
reiterated the foreign policy issued at the 13th National Party
Congress, which is attaching importance to developing the cooperation and
traditional friendship with neighbouring and ASEAN countries, Dung said.
The leaders of Vietnam and
other countries discussed many strategic issues with important visions and
orientations for their relations. They also agreed to work closely and support
each other at international forums, including in strengthening ASEAN’s
centrality and reinforcing links between the bloc and the UN.
PM Chinh also reiterated Vietnam’s
consistent stance on the East Sea issue, stressing the importance of adhering
to international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
Deputy FM Dung concluded that
the outcomes of the bilateral activities have created a solid foundation for
implementing Vietnam’s foreign policy towards important partners right from the
beginning of the new Government term, noting that they were also a positive
start helping to set up the cooperative ties and friendship between PM Chinh
and other ASEAN leaders./.