Asean must focus on community, boost +3 links: Vietnam minister

ASEAN+ July 16, 2012 00:00

By Viet Nam News

The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) should continue striving to build an Asean community, strengthening regional links and narrowing the development gap between member states, Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said at the 13th


Vinh praised the practical development of Asean+3 relations and the active participation and important contributions of China, Japan, and South Korea, and he urged member states to advance the bloc’s central role in regional forums.
In the future, he said, members of Asean+3 should continue to deepen cooperation in finance and currency, while effectively implementing the Chiang Mai Initiative and encouraging the private sector to get involved in the Asian Bond Markets Initiative.
The bloc and its partners should strengthen links in trade, investment, infrastructure, transport and human resource development, he added.
Vinh also participated yesterday in the 5th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers Meeting and the 2nd Mekong-South Korea Foreign Ministers Meeting.
Addressing the Mekong-Japan meeting, Vinh suggested that, over the next two years, the Mekong nations and Japan should focus on cooperating on important issues for sub-regional development, including hard and soft infrastructure development, particularly the East-West corridor and the Southern corridor. He also called for close coordination among Mekong sub-regional countries in managing and developing the Mekong River in a sustainable manner, focusing on assessing the impacts of hydroelectric dams on the main flow of the river.
Speaking at the Mekong-South Korea Foreign Ministers Meeting, Vinh said the Mekong-South Korea framework should propose cooperative ideas to make full use of each member nation’s expertise, such as human resource training for the Mekong Sub-region Information Superhighway, experience sharing and mutual support in building a green growth model.
He emphasised the absolute necessity for cooperation among nations in the management and exploitation of the waters of the Mekong in the context of increasing pressures from population growth, economic development and climate change.
Along with reviewing and directing cooperative programmes, the meetings also discussed regional and international issues of common concern, as well as existing challenges such as food security, natural disaster management, and the reshuffling of the Security Council.
Many countries also expressed their concerns over recent developments in the East Sea and their impacts on regional peace, stability and maritime security – particularly complex developments which harm exclusive economic zones and the sovereignty of coastal nations over continental shelf. 
They affirmed that all nations should respect and comply with international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). Vinh reaffirmed that the Vietnamese government opposed the setting up of China’s so-called “Sansha City” as well as its invitation for bids on nine petroleum lots within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
China’s acts, Vinh said, seriously violated the sovereign and jurisdictional rights of coastal nations over their exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as stated in the Unclos, and went contrary to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), threatening regional peace, stability, and maritime security. 
He also reaffirmed Vietnam’s support for settling disputes through peaceful means and without force in respect of international law, the Unclos and the DOC.