HCMC – Though territorial disputes in the East Sea were not on the agenda of Asia-Pacific defense talks in Hanoi on Tuesday, several nations raised concern about the issue and the defense chiefs from ASEAN and eight partner and dialogue countries agreed to deal with it by international law.
ADMM+: Solve East Sea disputes by int’l law
Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet (5th, R, front row) poses for a photo with ASEAN Plus Defense Ministers at the Presidential Palace after the first ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus in Hanoi on Tuesday - Photo: Reuters HCMC – Though territorial disputes in the East Sea were not on the agenda of Asia-Pacific defense talks in Hanoi on Tuesday, several nations raised concern about the issue and the defense chiefs from ASEAN and eight partner and dialogue countries agreed to deal with it by international law.
Speaking to reporters after the first ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), Vietnam’s Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh said the issue was not included in the ADMM+ agenda but some defense ministers touched on it while discussing each country’s security policy and concerns about regional security.
The ministers agreed territorial disputes in the East Sea should be resolved by peaceful means, via dialogues and as per international law to maintain peace, stability and security, Thanh is quoted by Vietnam News Agency as saying at the news conference.
The international law the general mentioned includes the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).
Thanh said Vietnam had called on the countries concerned to exert effort to build a Code of Conduct (COC) to solve territorial disputes. COC will have a stronger legal force than DOC.
Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy defense minister of Vietnam, told the press on the sidelines of ADMM+ at the National Convention Center that some ASEAN member countries, the U.S., Japan and South Korea raised the East Sea issue, according to the online newspaper Vietnamnet.vn.
The ASEAN defense ministers and their counterparts from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. will assign their senior defense officials and working groups to discuss measures for maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea, Defense Minister Thanh said.
Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is quoted by Reuters as saying, “They agree that the region is straddling communication, shipping and transport lanes ... and therefore it is important to maintain peace and stability and security -- including free and open and secure navigation.”
The Vietnamese defense chief, who presided over ADMM+ as Vietnam is the ASEAN chair for 2010, said of the meeting that the fact that the 18 defense chiefs sat down together for the first time to discuss bilateral and multilateral cooperation was most important.
He described ADMM+ as a historic meeting of the defense ministers from the countries with different levels of development and military might as they had the opportunity to build confidence and discuss strategic cooperation for peace and stability in the region.
ADMM+ is a strategic cooperation mechanism, he said, adding the defense ministers identified five areas of cooperation: humanitarian assistance and disaster rescue, maritime security, army medical, anti-terrorism, and peace-keeping operations.
In their joint communiqué at the closing of the meeting, the defense ministers decided to meet for the second time in Brunei in 2013 and let Vietnam organize the ASEAN Defense Senior Officials’ Meeting Plus Working Group in December this year to deploy the decisions and agreements reached by the ministers in Hanoi.