Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnamese delegation’s active participation at the recent 14th Asian-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting highlighted the country’s reputation and responsible contributions to important regional and global multilateral issues, an official has said.
Reviewing the event that took place on December 15-16 in Spain’s Madrid, Nguyen Minh Hang, head of Vietnam’s ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) delegation, said the ASEM members, consisting of 21 Asian and 30 European countries, agreed the forum needs to continue taking the lead in promoting multilateralism and a rules-based world order, consolidating multilateral trade and fighting all forms of protectionism.
They shared the view that multilateral cooperation needs to centre on the people and focus on human resources development, scientific-technological and innovation capacity improvement, sustainable use of maritime resources, marine debris prevention, and inter-regional cooperation in cross-border water resources management.
On the basis of the outcomes of the ASEM connectivity plan of action adopted at the ASEM Summit last year, participants agreed to step up ASEM connectivity, focusing on such fields as policy, trade, investment, energy, customs facilitation, digital connectivity, transport, and infrastructure.
They also affirmed their commitment to maintaining peace, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation, and preventing economic activities from being hampered.
They also stressed the importance of peacefully settling disputes in line with international law, especially the United Nations Charter and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; not using or threatening to use force; not taking unilateral actions that run counter to international law; implementing trust building measures; exercising self-restraint; and respecting diplomatic and legal processes, as well as the rights of coastal countries in their seas, according to Hang.
She noted that together with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) also held in Madrid earlier this month, the success of this ASEM meeting substantially contributed to multilateralism promotion and affirmed ASEM’s dynamism, thus better meeting people’s interests and helping maintain peace, stability, cooperation, and sustainable and prosperous development in the two regions and the world.
At the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh pointed out opportunities and challenges for multilateral cooperation while raising proposals for strengthening Asia-Europe cooperation to help enhance the vitality of multilateral cooperation. These proposals were welcomed by other members, Hang said.
She added the ASEM members also showed their support for the efforts made by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Vietnam’s priorities for 2020, when the country takes the ASEAN chairmanship, to press on with building a rules-based, people-oriented, cohesive and responsive community.
Vietnam’s proposal about fostering ASEM cooperation in women’s economic empowerment in the digital era was assessed as one of the most practical initiatives at the meeting that received widespread support and was co-sponsored by many other members.
Regarding the East Sea issue, the head of Vietnam’s ASEM SOM delegation, said many participating countries also agreed with Vietnam on the necessity to boost dialogue, trust-building, adherence to international and common standards, the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea. They also backed the building of an efficient and effective code of conduct in the waters, thus helping maintain peace and stability in Asia-Pacific, and ensuring security, stability and freedom of navigation and aviation to build the waters into a sea of peace, cooperation and development.
At the meeting, ASEM countries spoke highly of Vietnam’s growing stature, development achievements, reform efforts and extensive integration into the world, she said, noting that the European Union and its members advocated the early ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the bilateral Investment Protection Agreement.
They agreed to create favourable conditions for businesses to grasp trade and investment opportunities generated by the economic partnerships Vietnam has been implementing. They pledged to enhance coordination with the country when it serves as ASEAN Chair in 2020 and as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-2021.
Hang said ASEM is an important cooperation mechanism for Vietnam to promote its interests and concerns about development and security. Gathering 22 of the 30 strategic and comprehensive partners of Vietnam, the forum also provides a framework to reinforce the country’s relations with key partners in the two regions./.
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