BANGKOK: Asean must strengthen cooperation with its dialogue partners as well as countries outside the region to achieve sustainability in all dimensions, Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan o-cha said today.
As Asean chairman, he said the close cooperation of Asean member countries had produced a number of concrete outcomes in the last six months, including adopting the Asean Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability and pushing forward cooperation, directly benefiting the people.
“Asean cannot accomplish all of its goals alone. We must strengthen cooperation with our dialogue partners and with other countries outside the region, while also welcoming new cooperation with new partners,” he said at the opening of the 52nd Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), here, today.
Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah led its delegation to the AMM.
Prayuth said he had also reached out to the members of G20 during the G20 Summit in Japan recently to consider exploring cooperation with Asean in four key areas.
Two of the key areas are making use of financial technology or Fintech to support financial inclusion for women, youth, start-ups as well as remote communities, and narrowing the development gap between urban and rural areas by using technology and innovation to drive forward the Asean Smart Cities Network.
The other key areas are conserving and rehabilitating the environment and natural resources, in particular by combating marine debris and adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change, and promoting human capital development, whether in the area of education, skills development or public health development.
Prayuth said the 10-member regional organisation must strengthen the Asean-led mechanisms, enhance connectivity and promote regional security for mutual benefit and fulfil the aspirations of the bloc, as well as create and maintain a region of peace and security.
“It is important to strengthen the Asean-led mechanisms, including the Asean Plus Three, East Asia Summit, Asean Regional Forum and Asean cooperation with dialogue partners to ensure sustainability in all dimensions for the benefit of the region’s people.
“Secondly, it is vital to enhance connectivity through the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity 2025 and ‘connecting the connectivities’ approach in various areas, whether physical, people-to-people, financial, digital and trade, in particular by supporting the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations this year.
“Thirdly, it is vital to promote regional security by inviting countries, both big and small, to engage in cooperation based on the principle of 3Ms to promote an atmosphere of mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit to ensure peaceful settlement of disputes.
“Therefore, the AMM this year will be a good opportunity for us to ensure continuity in the implementation of the outcomes of these various meetings so as to produce concrete deliverables,” he said. — Bernama