After two-month delay, Vietnam all ready to host Asean Summit online

HANOI (dpa): South-East Asian leaders are to hold an online summit on Friday (June 26) to discuss the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, geopolitical tensions and the empowerment of women, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said.

The 36th Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) Summit was originally scheduled for April 6-9, but was delayed until June due to the coronavirus pandemic, deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung said in a press conference Tuesday (June 23).

"The conference will not directly address the code of conduct for the South China Sea ... but part of the debates will be about regional or global situations where there are tensions rising,” he said, before adding it is therefore likely the South China Sea tensions will be discussed.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territory and has built artificial islands with military-capable facilities over reefs and outcrops in the area, which are also claimed in part by Vietnam.

The code of conduct is an Asean agreement the member states have been working on in response to China’s aggressive territorial claims in the region.

On Thursday, regional leaders will meet online for an informal discussion on political security before the main event takes place on Friday.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will preside over sessions including discussions about women’s empowerment in the digital age and geopolitical issues.

On April 14, South-East Asian leaders held a special online summit to try and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The leaders agreed to establish joint recovery plans and create a joint fund for medical supplies to meet urgent needs during the coronavirus pandemic, an official press release from the summit said. - dpa
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