37th Asean Summit goes live online

The 37th Asean Summit and related summits officially kicked off in the form of a teleconference, focusing discussions on responding to Covid-19 and economic recovery in the post-pandemic period.

Delivering welcoming remarks at the summits’ opening ceremony in Hanoi on Thursday, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Nguyen Phu Trang highlighted the central role of Asean and the spirit of “Cohesive and responsive” in regional co-operation in response to the pandemic.In spite of Covid-19 ravaging the region in 2020, Asean member states had demonstrated determination and efforts to overcome challenges and made political commitments at the highest level, he said.

“Public confidence in the Covid-19 response capacity of Asean governments is at a high level. Asean has been successful in maintaining its activities, role and position over the past year. Asean’s partners continue to attach importance to relations with the bloc and support its centrality.

“Positioning a suitable foothold in a post-Covid-19 world is a major matter for Asean. Strong desire and willingness of maintaining regional peace, stability and solidarity based on respect for international laws have become and need to remain a core value of South-East Asia and the Asean community, he said.

He called on Asean countries “to promote their collaboration to realise initiatives and recovery strategies in a practical and effective manner”.

“Asean must uphold its central role and values in regional dialogues. The bloc can make effective contributions to the efforts of fostering multilateral co-operation, upholding international laws and strengthening international multilateral systems with the United States and other countries,” he said.

On this occasion, he laid emphasis on Vietnam’s policy of maintaining independence, self-reliance, multilateralism and diversification of external relations, being a trustworthy friend and partner and an active and responsible member of the international community, striving for peace, cooperation and development.

Vietnam’s membership in Asean and its contributions to the Asean Community building process over the past 25 years is the premise for Vietnam to effectively implement its foreign policy and international integration.

As Asean Chair 2020 under the spirit of “Cohesive and responsive”, Vietnam “highly appreciated solidarity and valuable support from Asean member countries and international partners, helping the Asean Community stay strong to overcome difficulties, maintain connection and strengthen Asean’s central role towards building a region of peace, friendship, co-operation, neutrality and stability”.

“Only through co-operation, trust, joint efforts and consensus, can Asean and the world together overcome all challenges, recover economic growth, maintain peace, stability and sustainable development,” he said.

Yesterday’s meetings included separate summits with leaders from China, South Korea and India.

Asean leaders will also have their first summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

An Asean-US summit is scheduled for tomorrow, but Vietnam’s foreign affairs ministry has not confirmed whether President Donald Trump will attend the online meeting. Trump attended the summit in 2017, but sent only representatives during the last two meetings.

A separate meeting of participants in a trade initiative backed by China is scheduled on Sunday, where the leaders are expected to ink a free trade agreement covering almost a third of the world economy.

The initiative’s members are the 10 Asean nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. India backed out of the plan last year and it does not include the United States, despite America’s US$2 trillion in trade with the region. — Vietnam News/ANN/AP

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