Jakarta, Sep 4 (EFE).- Indonesia’s foreign affairs minister on Monday called on representatives of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states not to let the region’s issues affect work at the bloc’s summit.
(L-R) Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Zambry Abd Kadir, Philippines’ Foreign Minister Enrique A Manalo, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Thailand’s Permanen Secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs Sarun Charoensuwan, Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Laos’ Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, Brunei’s Foreign Minister Erywan Pehin Yusof, Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Sok Chenda Sophea, East Timor’s Foreign Minister Bendito dos Santos Freitas, and ASEAN Secretary General Kao Kim Hourn, pose during the family photo session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’Äô Meeting ahead of the ASEAN Summit, at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, 04 September 2023. EFE/EPA/BAY ISMOYO/POOL
“We are all aware of many difficult circumstances in the region. But we cannot allow them to affect our hard work in the summit,” Retno Marsudi said Monday in her opening remarks on the eve of the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in Jakarta.
Marsudi said that “the eyes of our peoples” are watching the ministers “to prove ASEAN still matters and can contribute towards peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”
Southeast Asian foreign ministers will gather over the next three days in the last round of meetings this year for talks in which members diverge on various issues.
They are expected to discuss thorny issues including the crisis in Myanmar, the escalation of tensions in the South China Sea and the fight between the United States and China for greater influence in the region.
In her speech, Retno said the group had been working in the last nine months on “community-building,” and growing cooperation between ASEAN and other groups, such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
However, she noted that there is still work to do, especially on Myanmar, which has ben mired in a social, political and economic crises since the February 2021 military coup.
“Our chairmanship has worked hard to push for a united ASEAN solution. ASEAN can only steam forward in full power if we can ensure a peaceful and lasting solution in Myanmar,” the minister said.
She announced a comprehensive review of the five-point consensus agreed upon by the bloc and the leader of Myanmar’s junta to achieve peace, and prepare a “recommendation” for deliberation by ASEAN leaders.
The seat reserved for Myanmar is left empty during the 27th Asean Political-Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting ahead of the ASEAN Summit at the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, 04 September 2023. EFE/EPA/MAST IRHAM/POOL
In addition to representatives from the 10 member countries, the prime ministers of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak; Japan, Fumio Kishida and Australia, Antony Albanese, will attend, as well as Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The United States will be represented by Vice President Kamala Harris, while China will be represented by Premier Li Qiang. EFE