BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, April 25 (Bernama) — Asean Leaders have agreed to further intensify work to realise an Asean community that is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible in order to take advantage of current and future opportunities as well as effectively respond to regional and international challenges.

The leaders who gathered in this capital of Brunei Darussalam for the two-day 22nd Asean Summit which ended today, also welcomed the support of its Dialogue Partners, which will facilitate the region’s efforts in addressing issues of common interest.

These commitments were stated in the Summit Chairman’s Statement issued at a a press conference held by Asean 2013 chairman Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

The leaders also noted the establishment of a High-Level Task Force to review and make recommendations on ways to strengthen all Asean organs.

They acknowledged the importance of the various Asean organs in helping Asean member states to fully implement their commitment to realise the Asean Community by 2015 and to better prepare Asean to meet future challenges.

The establishment of the Asean Community (AC) by 2015 was one of the priority topics discussed by the Leaders. The AC comprises three pillars namely Political and Security Community, Economic Community, and Socio-Cultural Community that are closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, and shared prosperity in the region.

At the press conference, Sultan Hassanal said Asean Leaders emphasised the importance of maintaining regional peace and stability, deepening economic cooperation and expanding people-to-people ties so that the future generations will inherit a peaceful and prosperous Asean Community.

He said that Asean leaders expressed satisfaction on the progress of Asean’s relations with Dialogue Parners and external parties, especially their support and contribution to community building efforts.

“The leaders looked forward to the upcoming disaster relief and military medicine exercise in Brunei Darussalam this June, which will be the first humanitarian effort of its kind to bring together Asean countries and partners.” Asean Leaders also discussed issues on the maritime row over territory in the South China Sea and the Code of Conduct in the region’s disputed waters.

In this aspect, the leaders reaffirmed their collective commitments under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to ensure that the disputes are resolved in accordance with the principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea without resorting to the threat or use of force, while exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities.

Asean Leaders looked forward to continued engagement with China in implementing the DOC in a full and effective manner, including through mutually agreed joint cooperation activities and projects.

The leaders have tasked their ministers to continue to work actively with China on the way forward for the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China sea (COC) on the basis of consensus.

They also discussed the situation in the Middle East. They reaffirmed their support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people for an independent state of Palestine and a two-state solution where both countries (Israel and Palestine) and peoples can live side by side in peace.

“We call on all parties to make efforts for the resumption of peace talks and remove obstacles related thereto, in particular the construction of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The Leaders also expressed concern over the recent developments in the Korean Penisula. They reaffirmed their full support for all efforts to bring about the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.

“We encourage North Korea to comply fully with its obligations under the United Nations Security Council resolutions and its commitments under the Joint Statement of the Six-Party talks.” The Six-Party talks concerning the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula was held in Beijing, China in 2005.

The leaders also emphasised the importance of dialogue aimed at promoting mutual understanding and confidence among all parties concerned with ensuring peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Asean leaders who attended the 22nd Summit included Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Singapore Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Myanmar President U Thein Sein and Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh.

Malaysia was represented by Senate President Abu Zahar Ujang, who led the Malaysian delegation as a Special Representative of the Prime Minister.

The delegation comprised senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Ministry of Information Communications and Culture and the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department. –Nor Faridah Abd Rashid, BERNAMA