ASEAN SOM in Thailand looks at important issues

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung, who is head of Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM, attended the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) held in Chiang Rai, Thailand, from March 6-8.

Illustrative image (Source:

Illustrative image (Source:

Participating senior officials discussed cooperation measures in preparation for upcoming events, and exchanged notes on issues of mutual concern.

To speed up the building of the ASEAN Community, they agreed on the need for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to successfully implement priorities and tasks set for 2019 towards being a sustainable community, with people being put in the centre and no one left behind.

The officials deliberated orientations to build a draft ASEAN Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability, which is expected to be approved by leaders of the ASEAN nations in June 2019.

At the meeting, a plan to form a network connecting associations and organisations on ASEAN of the member states was also tabled. Once established, the network will be tasked with linking these associations and organisations to carry out activities to raise public awareness of the bloc.

Regarding maritime cooperation, the delegates agreed to review functions, missions and operations to raise the efficiency of the ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) and the Expanded AMF (EAMF).

They also reviewed preparations for several upcoming events, including the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meetings with China, New Zealand, Canada, the US, Australia and Japan.

For Japan, an ASEAN-Japan Day is scheduled to take place this year in Vietnam – the coordinator of the ASEAN-Japan relations, with numerous seminars, and cultural and sport exchange activities.

For China, the meeting acknowledged progress in negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), creating favourable conditions for the two sides to conclude the first round of talks before the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in August 2019.

The participants also discussed the organisation of Commemorative Summits to mark 30 years of the ASEAN-Republic of Korea partnership in 2019, and 45 years of the ASEAN-New Zealand partnership in 2020, while considering proposals of several nations on partnering with ASEAN.

Regarding Timor Leste’s proposal of joining ASEAN, they said that both the grouping and Timor Lester should make thorough preparations. At first, an ASEAN delegation will pay a fact-finding tour to Timor Leste to evaluate its capacity and demand.

On this occasion, the host Thailand also held an ASEAN SOM Retreat on Indo – Pacific cooperation. Delegates agreed that ASEAN should play a central role, and bring into full play mechanisms and forums set up and led by the bloc to promote collaboration and dialogue towards building an Indo-Pacific region of peace, cooperation, development and prosperity.

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