Asean committed to peaceful resolution of South China Sea row: Secretary-General
Danial Norjidi

THE South China Sea, denuclearisation of North Korea, Southeast Asian haze and the achievement of the Asean Community were the issues that took centrestage as the Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh spoke at a press conference yesterday.

Responding to questions from the floor, the Secretary-General described the issue of the South China Sea as being one of the regional and international issues discussed at the meetings, and emphasised Asean’s unity on the matter.

“At the Asean level, the ministers were united on the basis of Asean’s six-pronged principle with the basis of respect for international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and for a more peaceful solution on the principle of self-restraint and the principle of non-lethal force,” he said.

“Asean is united on these principles, and reinforced its determination to continue to engage with China to ensure effective and full implementation of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties on the South China Sea, which was the declaration agreed upon by Asean and China in 2002”.

He said that Asean and China have also agreed to continue consultations and dialogue to ensure that the DOC will be implemented effectively in full, and that the two sides have also reaffirmed their intention to work on a COC.

“In September, China and Asean will meet at the Senior Official level, and, among other issues, they will discuss the issue of how to ensure continued effective and full implementation of the DOC, as well as engage in formal consultations on the COC.”

Speaking on the issue of the recent haze, the Secretary-General noted that the ministers agreed on the need to enhance national and regional capabilities through concerted efforts and intensified regional and international cooperation, highlighting the monitoring and rapid response system, as well as fire fighting systems.

When asked on the issue of the Korean Peninsula, the Secretary-General said that there was concern about recent tension in the peninsula, and there was a call for the peaceful resolution of the issue and the resumption of the six party talks.

The highest priority in the effort to resolve this issue, he highlighted, is the call for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

At the same time, there was also an assessment that recent tensions have already decreased, and the opportunity should be seized to look for a solution of the issue based on the aforementioned conditions.

It was also mentioned that it could be the peaceful resolution of dispute or conflict that is adherent to the concerned United Nations Security Council’s resolutions, with the objective being the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Responding to a question from the Borneo Bulletin on the Asean Community, he said, “If you follow the outcome we have achieved, the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting has reaffirmed the determination of the Asean countries, while we are only two-and-a-half years from the 2015 deadline of the Asean Community.”

He also added that the Asean Community would not be an end, but an evolving process, meaning that once the community is in place, the process of Asean integration will continue to ensure that Asean continues to develop. - Borneo Bulletin (3 July 2013)