Asean defence ministers agree to strengthen solidarity for ‘harmonised security’

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SIEM REAP, Cambodia – Singapore Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen attended the 9th Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Wednesday, where a joint declaration was adopted to promote peace and security in the region. 

During the meeting – the first ADMM-Plus conducted in-person after two years of virtual meetings – Dr Ng and his counterparts exchanged views on the regional and international security environment.

Dr Ng stressed the importance of upholding an open and inclusive regional security architecture, and the role of the ADMM-Plus as a key platform for enhancing mutual trust and confidence building between defence establishments.

The meeting also adopted a Joint Declaration by the ADMM-Plus Defence Ministers on Defence Cooperation to Strengthen Solidarity for A Harmonised Security.

The joint declaration reaffirmed the ADMM-Plus countries’ commitment to promoting peace and security in the region by reinforcing strategic trust and mutual confidence.

Delivering his remarks after the 9th ADMM-Plus, Dr Ng highlighted the importance of the ADMM-Plus as an Asean-centred, open and inclusive platform in the regional security architecture, to facilitate dialogue in spite of differences and advance practical cooperation. 

He said, “I was very happy that there were rich bilateral exchanges on top of multilateral meetings. This goes some way in terms of discussing difficult issues.

“We do not expect that all differences can be resolved in one meeting, but these meetings allow for an understanding of differences.”

“There is a clear recognition of the heightened security environment, whether it was because of the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, US-China tensions, and others. There was a clear recognition that we had to deal with them in order to prevent conflict, especially in Asia. I was glad that all countries affirmed that we needed to increase practical cooperation and also improve mutual understanding, confidence and trust,” he added.

On the sidelines of the ADMM-Plus, Dr Ng met with India Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and New Zealand Minister of Defence Peeni Henare to reaffirm the strength of Singapore’s bilateral defence relationships with India and New Zealand.

Asean member states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The “Plus” dialogue partners are Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

In the joint declaration agreed upon on Wednesday, the ministers agreed to “enhance the spirit of solidarity and cooperation within Asean and with the plus countries in order to realise a harmonised security to promote peace, stability, prosperity, and resilience against current and emerging security challenges in the region”.

The ministers vowed to strengthen their collective efforts and practical cooperation to mitigate the impact of current and emerging, traditional and non-traditional threats including the Covid-19 pandemic, terrorism, violent extremism conducive to terrorism, and natural disasters, among others, it added.

They also agreed to promote peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region, including through the deepening of relations and effective practical cooperation, the adherence to the rule of law, and good governance, among others, the declaration said.

Speaking at a press conference, Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh, chair of the 9th ADMM-Plus, said the ministers also reaffirmed the belief that regionalism and multilateralism are important principles and frameworks of open and inclusive cooperation based on mutual benefit and respect to address common security concerns.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to promoting sustainable peace and security in the region by reinforcing strategic trust and mutual confidence within Asean and in the wider region through enhancing collaboration and dialogues under Asean-led mechanisms,” he said.

Mr Banh added that the ministers also welcomed the expansion of Asean direct communications infrastructure in the ADMM process to the plus countries, which will strengthen strategic cooperation as well as provide a platform for engagement in dialogue and enhancing transparency, regional confidence, and security-building measures.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Banh handed over the chairmanship of the ADMM to his Indonesian counterpart, Mr Prabowo Subianto, who will chair the 17th ADMM and the 10th ADMM-Plus in 2023. XINHUA

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