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Apr 22, 2021 / 17:36

Vietnam PM to attend ASEAN summit in his first overseas trip

Part of the regional summit is to focus on Myanmar situation.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh will visit the headquarters of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 23-24.

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. Photo: Thuan Thang/Zing

This will be his first overseas trip since being sworn in early April 2021.

Making the visit to Indonesia, which follows the invitation by the 2021 ASEAN Chair Brunei, Chinh will attend the ASEAN Summit that is scheduled to cover the Myanmar situation and other issues of the bloc cooperation.

The summit will discuss the situation in Myanmar with the attendance of ASEAN’s leaders, including Myanmar military junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) reported on April 15.

After being appointed as Vietnam’s PM, Chinh has vowed to strengthen solidarity and mutual assistance among ASEAN member states, contributing to enhancing the ASEAN Centrality in the region.

Vietnam became the 7th member of the 10-member bloc in 1995. Its role in the association has been remarkable, especially as the Chair of ASEAN in 2020 and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the same year. It also hosted the US–DPRK Summit in Hanoi in February 2019.

But beyond merely holding the chair, many already harbor hopes that Vietnam can take a stronger leadership role within ASEAN.

Many in ASEAN think that there could be no better country to stand up to the mounting challenges than Vietnam, according to Huong Le Thu, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Vietnam’s impressive response to Covid-19 has earned further respect and recognition from its neighbors, including much wealthier and more developed ones, like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Diplomatically, Hanoi has also been taking on a more pivotal role. It is a de facto front-liner in South China Sea (called East Sea by Vietnam) matters, where it has strong disputes with Beijing, but it’s also increasingly among the few that truly advocate for a powerful ASEAN role in regional matters.