New chief seeks action on SCS dispute

The new ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh has called on ASEAN members to negotiate to conclude the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.

New chief seeks early action on SCS dispute

Acknowledging the complicated South China Sea (SCS) issue, the new ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh called on ASEAN members on Wednesday to boost efforts to begin negotiations with China to conclude the Code of Conduct (CoC).

“ASEAN should speed up efforts to negotiate with China to achieve an early conclusion for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea,” Minh said in his inaugural remarks during the transfer of office ceremony, witnessed by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and outgoing ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

He said the agreement between ASEAN and China on the guidelines for implementing the Declaration on Conduct of parties in the South China Sea (DoC), ASEAN’s six-point principles on the South China Sea and the adoption of the ASEAN-China Joint Statement on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the DoC, would serve as “the good ground” to resolve the territorial dispute.

Minh highlighted the sensitivity of the South China Sea. As an important international sea lane, the area is not only echoing the issue of peace and stability for countries in the ASEAN region, but also of maritime security and the safety of navigation for many countries.

China and four ASEAN member states have overlapped claims on the South China Sea. Many fear that the disputes could potentially become Asia’s next flash points for armed conflicts.

The conclusion of CoC is significant in ensuring effective and timely implementation of the ASEAN Political and Security Community Blueprints, especially the measures relating to shaping and sharing standardized conduct, to confidence building, conflict prevention and resolution, he said.

Minh also underlined the need for ASEAN to work together on its focus to build the community with three pillars.

Before assuming his post as ASEAN’s secretary-general, Minh was Vietnam’s deputy minister for foreign affairs. His appointment was formally endorsed by the ASEAN leaders at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Cambodia in November 2012. His five-year tenure started from Jan. 1, 2013 and will last until Dec. 31, 2017.

Surin underlined the need for ASEAN to develop several strategies and initiatives to keep the association relevant and maintain its centrality.

He also urged ASEAN to settle the gaps — both inside and between — member states.

Source: The Jakarta Post.

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