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France, Italy, Cuba, Columbia become ASEAN’s new partners

08:20 | 13/09/2020

ASEAN granted the status of development partnership to France and Italy, and admitted Columbia and Cuba to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

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france italy cuba columbia become aseans new partners
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh chairs the international press conference on AMM 53. Photo: VNA

ASEAN member countries have reached consensus on cooperation mechanisms with France, Italy, Cuba and Colombia following the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 53) this week.

ASEAN granted the status of development partnership to France and Italy, and admitted Columbia and Cuba to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), Vietnamese Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told a press conference on AMM 53 and related meetings in Hanoi on September 12.

Regarding the UK’s proposal to become ASEAN’s dialogue partner, Minh said the grouping acknowledged the country’s significant role, both regionally and internationally, in the relationship between the UK and ASEAN member countries.

“ASEAN states are considering the UK’s proposal on the basis of ASEAN regulations, as well as cooperation outcomes and commitments of countries in general that want to become the bloc’s dialogue partners,” he added.

Many countries want to become ASEAN’s partners

france italy cuba columbia become aseans new partners
Participants to the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in virtual format on September 9, 2020. Photo: VGP

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung, who is also head of SOM ASEAN Vietnam, said on September 7 that many countries have proposed setting up partnership with ASEAN whose role and position have been advanced over the past time.

Apart from the UK, France, Italy, Cuba and Columbia, other countries like Morocco and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also interested in establishing dialogue partnerships in areas with the grouping.

Within the framework of AMM 53 and related meetings, ASEAN’s current partners supported the grouping’s centrality in the open, rules-based regional architecture.

france italy cuba columbia become aseans new partners
At the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting. Photo: VTV

ASEAN and its partners consented to join hands in order to intensify the role and efficiency of ASEAN-chaired forums, including the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

They reiterated commitments to backing multilateral cooperation and the framework of relations between countries on the basis of principles of international law, while stepping up their fruitful cooperation in coping with emerging challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and pushing ahead with comprehensive recovery.

Currently, China, Russia, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the EU are major partners of ASEAN.

Record number of documents adopted at AMM 53

france italy cuba columbia become aseans new partners
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh chairs the international press conference on AMM 53. Photo: VnExpress

At the press conference, Minh said the ministers adopted up to 42 documents at the AMM 53, a record in the history of ASEAN foreign ministers’ meetings. The documents include the Joint Communiqué and the ARF Hanoi Plan of Action II.

Notably, 10 initiatives raised by Vietnam also sailed through the meeting, including the Hanoi statement on the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the EAS and the organisation of a meeting of the EAS expert group on COVID-19, among others.

According to the Deputy PM and FM, the ministers affirmed their strong determination and commitments to fully and effectively realising goals and cooperation priorities in line with the theme “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” in 2020.

Staying united in fight against COVID-19

france italy cuba columbia become aseans new partners
Along with efforts to put COVID-19 under control, ASEAN needs to assist people and businesses in dealing with socio-economic consequences caused by the epidemic. Photo: VNA

The ministers stressed the significance of maintaining solidarity, unity and comprehensive access of the ASEAN Community in containing COVID-19 and easing its impact, while continuing with joint efforts in building the ASEAN Community.

They concurred to soon establish and put into operation regional reserve warehouses of medical supplies, develop standard operating procedures for public health emergencies, and ensure people’s fair access to COVID-19 vaccine.

With the support of partners, ASEAN will soon establish a regional centre for diseases and public health emergencies.

Along with efforts to put COVID-19 under control, ASEAN needs to assist people and businesses in dealing with socio-economic consequences caused by the epidemic, and gradually step up recovery, the ministers agreed.

Stressing significance of peace, stability in South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea)

france italy cuba columbia become aseans new partners
Source: ASEAN SAS

Minh said ASEAN has stressed the significance and interests of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea), which, they said, are the interests of all countries.

This stance has continued to receive the support of partner countries, he said, adding that the participating ministers also agreed on the need to promote dialogues, enhance trust building, practice self-restraint, take no actions that would increase tensions and complicate the situation, not to militarise, not to use or threaten to use force, and handle disputes by peaceful measures in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS).

The ministers also expressed their hope for the full and efficient implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and called for the early completion of a result-oriented Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in line with international law./.

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