ARF participants meet to strengthen regional security

11:05, July 24, 2010      

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The 17th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) was held on Friday with participants urging to strengthen cooperation for regional security enhancement.

The meeting, chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, drew foreign ministers or representatives of 27 ARF members to discuss security issues and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Vietnam holds the rotating ASEAN Chairmanship this year.

At the meeting, delegates expressed deep concern over the recent sinking of the Republic of Korea's naval ship, said Khiem at a press conference here Friday to brief the outcomes of the meeting.

They called on all concerned parties to exercise self-restraint and resolve all disputes by peaceful means.

The participants urged the early resumption of six-party talks to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula for its lasting peace and stability, Khiem said.

Regarding the Myanmar issue, the ministers stressed the importance of holding a general election in a free, fair and inclusive manner which would lay the foundation for the long-term stability and development of the country, said Khiem.

In terms of the future direction of the ARF process, the ministers reaffirmed that the ARF remains the key forum to discuss political and security issues in the region with ASEAN as the driving force, according to the Vietnamese deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

They insisted the need for the ARF to become more action- oriented in addressing multi-dimensional challenges, particularly non-traditional security threats such as climate change, disaster, and maritime security.

Delegates adopted the Hanoi Plan of Action to implement the ARF Vision Statement by 2020, which contains policy guidance for the ARF to further develop and contribute to peace and security in the region.

After the conclusion of the ARF, participants witnessed the signing of the third protocol to amend the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia. The amendment was made to allow international organizations to join the treaty, paving the way for the European Union (EU)'s accession.

TAC was a regional security pact established in 1976 by the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) to promote peace, security and stability in the region.

As ASEAN plays an increasing role in the region, TAC has seen more participation from countries outside the bloc in recent years. Countries such as China, Japan, India, Pakistan, and the United States have acceded to the treaty.

The treaty embraced another two new members on Friday, as Canada and Turkey signed the instrument of accession to the treaty to officially become TAC members.

The annual ARF is the principal channel for multilateral security dialogue and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

At present, ARF comprises 27 members including the ten ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; the ten ASEAN dialogue partners, namely Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States; and seven other countries in the Asia and Pacific region, namely Bangladesh, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, and Papua New Guinea.



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