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ASEAN Foreign Ministers gather in Phnom Penh for key issues

The AMM will touch on regional and international issues, especially the pressing security challenges that risk destabilizing regional peace and stability.

Ten diplomats of all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) today [August 3] deliberated key issues at the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-55) and Related Meetings hosted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

 ASEAN Foreign Ministers gather in Phnom Penh on August 3 for regional meetings. Photos: Baoquocte

The range of issues to be discussed on the first day of the four-day meeting includes the progress made in line with the ASEAN Community-building efforts, the way forward to recover strongly from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as cooperation and partnerships with external partners, said Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn in his opening remark.

The AMM would also touch on regional and international issues, especially the pressing security challenges that risk destabilizing regional peace and stability, assuming those issues are not handled properly.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen briefed up on the 55-year history of ASEAN and highlighted the devastating effects of Covid-19 and common efforts for economic recovery, increasingly dangerous rivalry between major powers, the rise of mini alliances, growing arms race, and selective imposition of economic sanctions.

He also talked about the political, security, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, armed conflicts in Ukraine that have caused serious economic disruptions, and overlooked issues such as climate change and traditional and non-traditional security challenges.

Hun Sen emphasized that ASEAN modus operandi is based on the principles of consensus and non-interference to realize the ultimate goal of “unity in diversity.”

 Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the event.  

As Cambodia’s Chairmanship themed “ASEAN A.C.T: Addressing Challenges Together”, the region vows to address issues related to the enforcement of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the 20th anniversary of the DOC – an important document in managing relations between all parties concerned in the South China Sea, negotiations to reach substantive and effective COC which is in line with international law, including UNCLOS.

To maintain the cooperation, ASEAN is called to go further by leveraging different national conditions to provide a platform for cooperation among member states as well as external partners.

The bloc considers an initiative called ASEAN Green Deal that enables the region to make a gradual transition toward a green future that is sustainable, resource-efficient, resilient, and competitive. It would cover a wide range of areas such as infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, consumption, agriculture, transport, environment, and finance, with technology and innovation.

Regarding the partnership with external partners, as of last year, ASEAN had 11 Dialogue Partners, including Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, the UK, and the US.

In his remarks, Hun Sen said he’s optimistic that the grouping of 10 member states could welcome Timor Leste to the association.

The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC), 23rd ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (23rd APT FMM), 12th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (12th EAS FMM), 29th ASEAN Regional Forum (29th ARF) and Related Meetings will be held in Phnom Penh from July 31 to August 6, 2022.

 Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at AMM-55. 

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son attended the event, paying a courtesy visit to Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen and having talks with Cambodia’s Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn. The talks between the two foreign ministers focused on Vietnam’s support for Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship, efforts to hold high-ranking exchange visits, and cooperation mechanisms to successfully commemorate the 55th anniversary of diplomatic ties and to raise the two-way trade to over US$15 billion in 2022.