Summary of the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences
July 28, 2000
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The ASEAN+10 Foreign Ministers Meeting, working lunch, and ASEAN+1 (Japan) Foreign Ministers Meeting of the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences were held in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 28, 2000. The summary is as follows.
1. ASEAN+10 Foreign Ministers Meeting
A. The Asian economy
Yohei Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, stated that the strength of the Asian economy, particularly its potential and strength that have been demonstrated in the process of its recovery from the currency and economic crises, should be highly evaluated. He stressed the importance for ASEAN nations to keep up their efforts to reform the economic structure and the need for their dialogue partners to support these these efforts. He also emphasized the need to support socially vulnerable people, such as the poor, women, children, and the disabled--an area in which improvement has been slower than on the economic front. These views were shared by other countries as well. (Some dialogue partners placed more emphasis on the need for reform.)
B. Cooperation to strengthen ASEAN integration
The ASEAN side requested the cooperation of its dialogue partners for the development of ASEAN through the Hanoi Plan of Action--especially the development of the Mekong River Basin and assistance in the field of human resources development.
C. International political and economic issues
Foreign Minister Kono gave a report on the discussions at the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, with reference to the interests and requests expressed by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan of Thailand as representatives of ASEAN (the IT revolution, strengthening of the international financial architecture, and the launch of a new round of WTO negotiations, in particular). From the ASEAN side, there were statements stressing the need to reform the international financial architecture and the importance of a regional mechanism as a complementary mechanism.
D. Transnational issues
Foreign Minister Kono stated that Japan would provide the utmost possible cooperation in the area of transnational organized crime, including support for the ASEAN Plan of Action, and encouraged all countries to participate in the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime so that it can be adopted this year. Regarding piracy, Foreign Minister Kono first touched on the results of the "Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships," which was held in Tokyo in April, then announced that Japan would dispatch a government research mission in September to the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Foreign Minister Kono also expressed Japan's intention to contribute to fighting infectious and parasitic diseases in this region through the comprehensive initiative that it announced on the occasion of the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. The Philippines commented on transnational organized crime; the EU and the United States on trafficking in women and children; and Russia on international terrorism.
2. Working Lunch
- The U.N. Millennium Summit could not be covered during the ASEAN+10 Foreign Ministers Meeting as originally intended and was discussed during the working lunch. Comments were made on the need to reform the United Nations, particularly the Security Council, including Japan's permanent membership on the Security Council.
- With regard to the format of the Post-Ministerial Conferences, the originally scheduled subject for discussion, the ASEAN side suggested adopting the "retreat" format, in which only the foreign ministers would attend and engage in a free and frank exchange of views in a relaxed atmosphere. This suggestion won general support.
3. ASEAN+1 (Japan) Foreign Ministers Meeting
- At the beginning of the session, Foreign Minister Kono and Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien of Viet Nam signed letters on the establishment of the Japan-ASEAN General Exchange Fund. This was followed by remarks by the foreign ministers of Viet Nam, which is the current Country Coordinator for Japan, Japan, Myanmar, which will be taking over the role of Country Coordinator from Viet Nam, and all other ASEAN member nations. All of the remarks by the ASEAN foreign ministers highly praised and expressed appreciation for Japan's support and initiatives, and Foreign Minister Kono responded sincerely by committing himself to the further enhancement of Japan-ASEAN cooperation. It was an excellent session, leaving the impression that the Japan-ASEAN relationship is at its best ever.
- Foreign Minister Kono explained the current status of the implementation of the Obuchi Plan, Japan's comprehensive cooperation packages on information technology, how Japan plans to advance Mekong River Basin Development, and the ASEAN promotion campaign to be held this fall. He further pointed out the importance of engaging in reciprocal human resources development through the acceptance of exchange students. Foreign Minister Kono explained that Japan recognizes ASEAN as a partner and hopes to strengthen its relationship with ASEAN, based on its positive evaluation of the role that ASEAN has played in pursuing peace and prosperity in the region. He stressed the expectations of Japan for the work towards Vision 2020: Japan-ASEAN Consultation Conference on the Hanoi Plan of Action and the recommendations to be issued at the conference.
- At the end of the session, Foreign Minister Kono expressed Japan's desire to support Myanmar, the incoming Country Coordinator for Japan, so that Myanmar can make constructive contributions inside ASEAN, and announced that Japan will be inviting young diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar to Japan. Foreign Minister U Win Aung of Myanmar responded by expressing Myanmar's determination to do its utmost in fulfilling its role as the Country Coordinator for Japan.
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