53rd ASEAN foreign ministers’ virtual meeting kicks off

The 53rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers’ meeting and related meetings kicked off on Wednesday via video conference under the chair of Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh.

Delivering a speech at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highlighted the development of the ASEAN, noting that initiatives including the Covid-19 Response Fund, the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and an ASEAN comprehensive recovery plan have not only assisted in the joint response to Covid-19 but also strengthened the bonds among ASEAN members.

Phuc suggested that the ASEAN members continue upholding the bloc’s solidarity and unity, and called for efforts to control the pandemic and promote sustained recovery, with the Covid-19 Response Fund being well utilized and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies operationalized, Xinhua news agency reported.

He also said the members need to promptly help with production restoration and people’s life returning normal, make efforts to facilitate trade and investment, fix the disrupted supply chain and enhance connectivity, and provide mutual support to bridge the development gaps between the ASEAN’s subregions.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Pham Binh Minh said specific measures to effectively implement the instructions of the ASEAN leaders at the 36th ASEAN Summit would be discussed at the four-day event.

Representatives will also exchange views on how to further promote regional cooperation and integration, overcome challenges and difficulties to successfully achieve the set targets and map out the way forward, he noted.

At the meetings with ASEAN’s dialogue partners, attendees will deliberate issues relating to the future of the forums, and continue to broaden and deepen the cooperation within the China-ASEAN and ASEAN Plus Three frameworks to maximize these platforms’ roles in the new circumstances, he said.

The event is held from Wednesday to Saturday, with some 40 documents expected to be issued and adopted at a number of meetings via video link, according to the organizers.

Founded in 1967, the ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Vietnam is the ASEAN chair for 2020.