ASEAN Defense Ministers Meet for the 7th Time

Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin took part in the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) which  was held in Brunei Darussalam on
 May 7. Convening their 7th meeting since the ADMM was established in 2006, the defense ministers of ASEAN adopted initiatives, namely ASEAN Defense Interaction Program and ASEAN Logistics Support Framework, to deepen cooperation among ASEAN’s defense and military establishments. These would complement current projects of the ADMM to include cooperation between ASEAN Defense Establishments and Civil Society Organizations on non-traditional security, ASEAN Peacekeeping Centers Network and ASEAN Defense Industry Collaboration.

They also adopted a mechanism for ensuring a smooth transition of co-chairmanships of the various ADMM-Plus working groups on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, maritime security, military medicine, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping operations. With the term of the current co-chairs ending in early 2014, a new set of co-chairs would ensure that the momentum of practical cooperation between ASEAN and the Plus countries (Australia, China, India, New Zealand, Russia, and the US) would be sustained. Also agreed was the addition of a working group on Humanitarian Mine Action to deal with unexploded ordnance resulting from past conflicts in Southeast Asia.

The ministers jointly declared to strengthen and intensify efforts to promote regional peace and stability through dialogue and cooperation; undertake measures and initiatives to increase the level of awareness within the ASEAN Defence and military establishments; promote ASEAN identity building; and deepen cooperation by developing more concrete and action-oriented measures. They also reaffirmed their commitment to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and support the ASEAN Leaders’ decision during their Summit in April to work actively with China towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

An informal meeting between ASEAN and China’s Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan was also organized by the ASEAN Chair. In that meeting, Secretary Gazmin acknowledged the value of dialogue and consultation but stressed that openness to listen complemented with the receptivity to the views of each other, and consistency between policy pronouncements and actions are necessary for dialogues to bear substantive results and truly build trust.

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