ASEAN FM Meeting: Enhance Cooperation on Rohingya and South China Sea Issues

The meeting of Foreign Ministers of Southeast Asia countries in Vietnam (source: Kyodo)

Nha Trang, MINA – The meeting of Foreign Ministers of Southeast Asia countries ended talks in Vietnam on Friday with a commitment to continue working together on key issues, including facilitating the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar and reducing tensions in the South China Sea.

A statement as was reported by the Mainichi media said after an informal two-day meeting regarding Rohingya issue, the foreign ministers “reiterated the need for ASEAN to be more visible and play an enhanced role in supporting Myanmar through providing humanitarian assistance, facilitating the repatriation process, and promoting sustainable development in Rakhine State”.

More than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority group were persecuted in Myanmar. They have fled from the westernmost state of the country to neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017 to avoid military crackdown.

Meanwhile, regarding the South China Sea dispute which involving several members of ASEAN and China, the statement said “they expressed on land reclamation, recent developments and serious incidents, which have reduced trust, increased tension and possibly undermined peace, security and stability in the region”.

It was said the ministers stressed the importance of upholding international law and the need to promote an environment conducive to ongoing negotiations towards the Code of Ethics in the South China Sea.

China, which claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, has installed military facilities on artificial islands and created based on disputed features.

The foreign ministers also discussed ASEAN’s view of the Indo-Pacific, which was launched in June last year, which aims to ensure that ASEAN plays a “central and strategic role” in the developing regional scope.

The view also conveyed the situation on the Korean Peninsula and tensions in the Middle East.

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting was held on a small island off the coast of the resort town of Nha Trang, marking the first ASEAN ministerial meeting hosted by Vietnam since taking over the rotating leadership of Thailand.

ASEAN members consist of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)