First ASEAN ministers’ meeting highlights importance of regional unity

BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan-- Foreign ministers of the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) underscored the need to maintain unity in the Southeast Asian region during their first meeting for this year's summit.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said that Southeast Asian ministers agreed on the need to maintain ASEAN centrality and unity during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat in this resort island, Tuesday. The meeting is the first major meeting of ASEAN under the Philippine chairmanship this year.

In a press conference held after the meeting, Yasay said it is important to have a credible, elective and cohesive ASEAN response in addressing its domestic and regional challenges.

He said the ASEAN ministers' meeting also highlighted the need to continue having initiatives that benefit the people of ASEAN.

Yasay said this includes "the need to redouble efforts to decrease intra-regional trade," adding that consular assistance given to ASEAN nationals will likewise be strengthened to promote deeper regional integration.

Yasay said the foreign ministers likewise exchange views on regional issues of common interest including the West Philippine Sea dispute.

Other issues discussed include non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, piracy, national disasters, climate change, irregular migration, maritime security and cooperation, among others.

The foreign ministers also discussed ways to improve peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Yasay said the result of the retreat meeting in Boracay will serve as basis of the discussions for the high level meeting related to ASEAN in the coming months.

In line with the summit's goal of community building, the Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary said the first gathering of foreign ministers this year also discussed the implementation of the ASEAN community vision for 2025, especially the region's political security community blueprint and strengthening ASEAN's external relations and maintaining ASEAN's centrality in the evolving regional architecture. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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