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ASEAN defence meetings aim for regional solidarity

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Lay Chenda, deputy head of foreign affairs at the defence ministry, chairs the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ meeting on Monday. DEFENCE MINISTRY

ASEAN defence meetings aim for regional solidarity

The ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting Working Group and ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting-Plus Working Group are conducting a two day conference.

The online meetings are being held on March 28 and 29, chaired by Lay Chenda, deputy director-general of foreign affairs at the Ministry of National Defence. This is the second meeting this year, with the first held on February 7.

The meetings are themed “Solidarity for Harmonious Peace”, and will be attended by senior ASEAN defence officials and officials from the ASEAN Secretariat, according to the ministry’s March 28 press statement.

“The theme reflects the good will of Cambodia as chair, and its hopes of strengthening regional solidarity in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, planning a recovery from it, and solving traditional and non-traditional common challenges; all in the ASEAN spirit of centrality and inclusiveness,” it said.

The meetings were scheduled to review three concept documents from Cambodia and review the operational terms and conditions for the ASEAN information and cybersecurity centre that was agreed upon in February.

The statement said the meetings would also discuss the establishment of the Southeast Asia Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said security issues are a core pillar for ASEAN. The bloc is facing many challenges – including the crisis in Myanmar, the South China Sea issue, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, regional geopolitical contest, as well as non-traditional security issues, such as Covid-19, refugees, and human and drug trafficking.

All of these challenges require the ASEAN states to cooperate, share information, and exchange experience and opinions so that joint policies can be created that will ensure stability, security and prosperity in the region.

“AEAN has become a core region in world trade, raw material supply and production chains. It must hold a neutral position, respect international law, and push for solutions to regional and international issues based on mutual respect,” he said.

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