ASEAN has revealed this year’s six priorities to drive growth and pursue the common goals of the 10-member regional bloc as Asean foreign ministers met at a retreat in the Philippine resort of Boracay this week.
The Philippines, as Asean chair for 2017, announced at the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat on Tuesday the priorities it had initiated, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.
The six priorities are striving for a people-oriented and people-centred Asean; peace and stability in the region; maritime security and cooperation; inclusive, innovation-led growth; Asean’s resiliency; and Asean as a model of regionalism and a global player.
The retreat is the first gathering of the foreign ministers under the Philippines’ Asean chairmanship in 2017 with the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”.
Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith led the Lao delegation.
The ministers discussed ways to build on the success of the 28th and 29th Asean summits held in Laos in September last year. The ministers also discussed Asean’s external cooperation. Summits to mark the 40th anniversary of relations and cooperation between Asean and the United States, Canada and the EU will also be held this year. A summit to mark the 25th anniversary of cooperation between Asean and India will also be held.
During the retreat, the ministers also discussed the way forward for Asean community building, including the implementation of the Asean Community Vision 2025, especially strengthening of the bloc’s external relations and maintaining Asean centrality in the evolving regional architecture, according to the press release by the chairman of the retreat.
The ministers looked forward to the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Asean this year, commemorating five decades of cooperation and community-building in Asean.
They emphasised the importance of continuing to promote initiatives that directly benefit the people of Asean. These include the need to redouble efforts to increase intra-regional trade and further strengthen mechanisms for extending consular assistance to Asean nationals consistent with Asean’s goal for deeper regional integration, and the usefulness of tapping Asean think tanks to assist in charting the direction of the regional bloc.
The ministers exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest and discussed ways of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.
Saleumxay expressed gratitude to the member states for the support given to Laos for its 2016 Asean presidency. By Vientianne Times Asia News Network, 25 Feb 2017
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