Laos urges Asean nations to bolster response to pandemic

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Laos has pushed for the relevant bodies in Asean countries to accelerate implementation of the Asean initiative to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and keep the virus in check.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith delivered the message on Thursday (Jan 21) when he headed a Lao delegation taking part in the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat chaired by Brunei via video link.

The gathering was the first Asean ministers’ meeting held by Brunei Darussalam as the Asean Chair for 2021, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Asean leaders were urged to speed up the implementation of Asean’s economic post-pandemic recovery plan and use the Asean Covid-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines for residents of the 10-nation bloc.

This would help to minimise the impact of the pandemic on socio-economic development and people’s health.

Saleumxay suggested that Asean should enhance its centrality role by strengthening relations with external partners amid changing global circumstances and the pandemic.

He congratulated the accomplishments of Asean programmes under the chairmanship of Vietnam in 2020, particularly the implementation of agreements signed by Asean leaders during the 37th Asean Summit.

According to the Asean website, “Vietnam’s chairmanship of Asean last year was exemplary. In spite of having to deal with the impact of the pandemic and natural disasters, Vietnam provided able leadership in keeping the region cohesive and responsive to these challenges, placing Asean centrality and the peoples’ interests at the core.”

During the retreat, leaders said they highly valued the achievements of Asean programmes, notably the reviewing of a master plan relating to Asean community building, the improvement of collaboration mechanisms within Asean pillars, and the preparation of a draft of the Asean Community Vision beyond 2025.

The meeting discussed Asean initiatives for socio-economic recovery from the pandemic, using the Asean Covid-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines and medical equipment.

With the theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper” for this year’s chairmanship, Asean ministers discussed the key priorities of the chair, following up on the outcomes of the 37th Asean Summit under Vietnam’s chairmanship.

Asean will focus on key areas including building an Asean community with people as the core; Asean adaption to changes to create new opportunities; and enhancing unity within Asean and strengthening cooperation with the international community.

Also on Thursday, Saleumxay led a Lao delegation taking part in the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) via video link, hosted by Turkey as ACD Chair.

The meeting took the theme “The New Normal and Safe and Healthy Tourism”.

Leaders reviewed activities under the ACD framework in 2019-20 and discussed future directions of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue.

Discussions centred on six pillars of cooperation in line with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, namely (i) Interrelation of food, water and energy security; (ii) connectivity; (iii) science, technology and innovation; (iv) education and human resources development; (v) culture and tourism; and (vi) promoting approaches to inclusive and sustainable development. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

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Laos , Asean , pandemic , retreat


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