The official expressed his backing for efforts to intensify the role of the EAS Chair – Thailand which also holds the Chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ASEAN+3 and the ASEAN Regional Forum, and strengthen connectivity and support between these mechanisms.
Regarding the East Sea situation, following the concerns expressed by the EAS countries at the meeting, Minh pointed out unilateral activities that have violated sovereignty and legal interests of littoral countries.
Vietnam has sufficient historical and legal foundations over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes, he reaffirmed, re-stressing ASEAN’s stance and principles on the East Sea.
He called on relevant sides to enhance trust, to not militarise but exercise restraint and take no actions that complicate the situation and intensify tensions, to not use or threaten to use force but seriously observe international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and build an effective, efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea in conformity with international law.
At the meeting, EAS countries agreed to step up result-oriented cooperation in priority areas in the Manila Action Plan for the 2018-2022 period, covering environment-energy, education, finance, health care-diseases, disaster management, connectivity, economy-trade, food security and maritime cooperation.
They also consented to submit declarations on combating drug trafficking and transnational crime, and on connectivity to the 14th EAS slated for late 2019.
The ministers took note of recent positive developments on the Korean Peninsula, including US-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) summits held in Singapore, Vietnam’s Hanoi, and Panmunjom.
They supported efforts to resume negotiations, step up diplomatic activities and dialogues to seek long-term solutions for the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, for sustainable peace on the peninsula.
The EAS countries committed to seriously abide by relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.
Many expressed their grave concerns over the recent developments in the East Sea, including the moves of militarising the area and the activities that threaten legal economic activities of coastal states, erode trust, stir up tensions and negatively affect the regional peace and stability.
They reaffirmed the significance of the maintenance of peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea, non-militarisation, no actions that complicate the situation and unilaterally change the status quo, and handling disputes peacefully in line with international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS.
All sovereignty claims must be based on international law, they said, expressing their disapproval of coercive deeds to claim sovereignty in the East Sea.