ASEAN foreign ministers meet in Vietnam

20:51, January 14, 2010      

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Foreign ministers of member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan gathered here on Thursday for an annual retreat, mapping out priorities for the ASEAN activities in 2010.

At the meeting, the ministers exchanged their views on the ASEAN Community building and ASEAN's external relations.

Pham Quang Vinh, Vietnamese assistant foreign minister, said at a press briefing after the meeting that ASEAN countries vow to increase the connectivity among member countries. Connectivity is important for ASEAN and it includes linkages in infrastructure, telecommunications, people exchanges, and promotion of trade facilitation.

The enhancement of ASEAN connectivity will help create a foundation for connectivity in East Asia, said Vinh.

ASEAN foreign ministers urged member countries to promote specific project and plan to narrow the developmental gap of the members, according to the Vietnamese assistant foreign minister.

Vinh said that the ministers also approved in principle the ASEAN protocol on dispute settlement, which serves as an important basis for an ASEAN's operation based on the ASEAN Charter and for ASEAN to solve differences and settle disputes in an amicable manner provided for in the Charter.

Regarding the ASEAN's external relations, the ministers said that ASEAN should make efforts to expand and deepen the relations with its partners, according to Vinh.

Vinh said that the ministers agreed that ASEAN continues to promote its representation at international forums. They also reiterated the necessity of maintenance of ASEAN's focal role in regional cooperation and dialogue process.

The ASEAN foreign ministers accepted the application of non-ASEAN member countries to send ambassadors to ASEAN as well, according to Vinh. The applicants include Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Pakistan and Morocco.

Source: Xinhua
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