Secretary Gazmin Joins ASEAN Defense Ministers in a Retreat

Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin joined the defense ministers of ASEAN members in a retreat held in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 16 November 2012. During the retreat, the defense ministers exchange views on issues that impact on regional security primarily the West Philippine Sea as well as other non-traditional concerns. The ministers underscored the need to maintain ASEAN unity and centrality amidst pressures from extra-regional powers, affirmed their support for the early completion of a Code of Conduct and committed to further strengthen cooperation in building capacities to address emerging non-traditional security concerns. 

The ten ASEAN defense ministers also had an informal meeting with US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta during the retreat. Secretary Panetta reiterated the US’ readiness to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific and emphasized that it has great interest in maintaining peace and security. He assured the ministers that the US will pursue its interest through abiding by the rule of law, building partnerships, projecting regional power and promoting a strong relationship with China. 

At the sidelines of the retreat, Secretary Gazmin had bilateral meetings with the defense ministers of Brunei, Cambodia and Vietnam where he discussed efforts to strengthen the bilateral defense relationships with these countries as well as convey to them the fruitful results of the informal meeting among the defense ministers of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia held in Cebu, Philippines in August 2012.