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Terrorism, South China Sea row high on agenda of Asean regional security forum

/ 06:14 PM October 23, 2017

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers (L to R): Bruneis’s Minister of Energy and Industry Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Cambodia’s Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, Indonesia’s Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, Lao Defence Minister Chansamone Chanyalath, Malaysia’s Defence Minister Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin bin Tun Hussein, Philippines’ Defence Secretary and Chairman of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Delfin Lorenzana, Myanmar’s Defence Minister Sein Win, Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Thailand’s Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Vietnam’s Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh link arms during the Signing and Hand-over of the Joint Declaration on the sidelines of the 11th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) opening ceremony in Clark, east of Manila on October 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

CLARK FREEPORT — Terrorism and the South China Sea dispute were high on the agenda in a joint statement released by defense ministers of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at a high-level regional security forum here on Monday.

Part of the nine-page document emphasized the commitment of all parties “to effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, Asean six-point principles on the South China Sea and reiterating the importance of expeditiously working towards an early conclusion of the code of conduct in the South China Sea.”

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They also jointly reaffirmed “the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, saftey and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea, as well as the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Foreign ministers of Asean and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in South China Sea last August, but they said it was only an outline how the code would be established.

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Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines are claimants to some parts of the disputed sea, but China claims nearly the entire body of water.

The meeting of the defense ministers from 10 member countries was chaired by Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

“The joint declaration being signed embodies the collective sense of the Asean defense ministers on the regional security environment,” said a statement that was read during the signing ceremony. “More importantly, it contains the ministers’ shared thrust and specific undertakings to address the security challenges facing the region as well as the practical measures to promote cooperation.”

The defense ministers also condemned the attacks that had been carried out by violent extremists around the world, particularly in Southeast Asia. Among these attacks is siege of Marawi City, which has just been concluded.It cause high casualties and displacement of thousands of people, along with the destruction of a big part of the city.

The ministers also vowed to work together on countering all forms of terrorism and violent extremism. /atm

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TAGS: 31st ASEAN summit, Delfin Lorenzana, South China Sea dispute, Southeast Asian terrorism
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