A Vietnamese delegation led by Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich attended the 12th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and the fifth ADMM Plus in Singapore from October 18-20.
The event attracted defence chiefs of 10 Southeast Asian nations and partner countries, including the US, Russia, India, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Ministers reached consensus on fostering trust, promoting defence cooperation in anti-terrorism and driving back security challenges threatening peace and stability in the region.
As an active member of ADMM and ADMM Plus, Vietnam put forth a number of initiatives to build practical and effective regional defence cooperation, contributing to reinforcing mutual trust and understanding among nations.
According to Lieut. Gen. Vu Chien Thang, head of the Defence Ministry’s Department of External Relations, said ministers discussed anti-terrorism, trust building measures, non-traditional security challenges, trans-national crimes, humanitarian assistance, search and rescue, piracy and armed piracy at sea. They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, maritime and aviation safety and freedom, as well as the need to reinforce trust, exercise self-restraint, avoid actions that further complicate the situation, and deal with disputes by peaceful means in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Highlighting ASEAN’s central role and partner countries’ responsibility for strengthening ADMM and ADMM Plus mechanisms, ministers agreed to adopt several important documents, including the “Our Eyes” Intelligence Initiative, the framework guidelines on preventing air military encounters and the observer mechanism for ADMM Plus experts, as well as discussed admitting more members to the mechanism.
On the sidelines of the events were informal meetings between ASEAN defence ministers and the US Secretary of Defence, Chinese and Japanese Defence Ministers.
According to Thang, Defence Minister Lich highlighted Vietnam’s stance on issues under discussion with clear messages, saying that the maintenance of ASEAN consensus and central role in regional security architecture is a common interest of parties and responsibility of partner nations.
He proposed specific measures to strengthen practical cooperation with China, the US and Japan. Accordingly, he suggested launching a hotline between ASEAN and Chinese defence ministers, holding an exchange between young ASEAN and Chinese officers for the first time in Vietnam, and establishing a joint working group between the bloc and China.
Vietnam proposed the US improve ASEAN’s capacity regarding maritime security, humanitarian assistance, search and rescue and post-war recovery, including chemical pollution treatment.
The country expressed support for contents in the Vientiane Vision document and urged Japan to continue assisting ASEAN in environment protection, especially water resources security.
Lich affirmed that Vietnam backs the international community’s efforts and cooperation expansion to prevent terrorism and terrorism support activities in any form.
On maritime security, Vietnam welcomed progresses that ASEAN and China made in the process of building a Code of Conduct in the East Sea, called on parties concerned to seriously implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, and the framework guidelines on preventing air military encounters recently adopted by the ADMM.
The Vietnamese side also expressed its readiness to share effective ways to foster trust such as holding border exchanges with neighbouring countries and border guards from China, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.
Thang said the events reflected Vietnam’s active and proactive involvement in dealing with common issues in the region, contributing to strengthening mutual trust and understanding among countries, for the sake of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.
Commenting on Minister Lich’s bilateral meetings with partners to step up defence links, Thang said countries spoke highly of the role in and active contributions to regional common issues by Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Army in particular, affirming that they will back Vietnam in its position as ASEAN Chair 2020.-