The 48th annual Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 48) and a host of allied Asean meetings got underway today, August 4, 2015, in Kuala Lumpur following two days of intense talks between senior public servants from all ten Asean member nations.
Among matters to be discussed at AMM 48 over the next two days is the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) later this year, continuation of the regional integration scheme, as well as the Asean Community’s Vision for 2015-2025 and the world at large.
AMM 48 will also discuss and analyse the seven years to date of implementing the Asean Charter and advance its operations based on the Asean Community’s three main pillars of political security, an economy community and a socio-cultural community.
Also on the agenda for AMM 48 is reinforcing the role of the Asean Secretariat, including a call for a mutual agreement on the overall framework to boost connectivity within the community.
The agenda also seeks to underscore the role of the Asean Secretariat, calling for consensus on overall blueprints to boost Community connectivity, deepen ties with partners and widen their involvement in the regional architecture.
Themed ‘Our People, Our Community, Our Vision’, AMM 48 will also address ways to deepen relationships among partners, strengthen Asean’s role in peace, trade, security and promotion of the region.
As Asean focuses on the integration of regional economies in an extensive competitive global economic environment, it also makes ready to take on bigger responsibilities such as disaster and emergency relief work.
Ahead of AMM 48 teams of senior officials who arrived in Malaysia last weekend reached consensus on a number of issues of shared concerns, including the ongoing tension in the South China Sea due to Chinese land reclamation, the Korean peninsula situation, the Iranian nuclear programme, counter-terrorism, trans-national anti-crime, and non-traditional security challenges.
In accordance with past traditions a communique encapsulating the primary issues of concern and / or interest to the ten members is expected at the completion of the meeting on August 6 and it will be particularly interesting how AMM 48 handles the thorny issue of China’s ongoing aggression and reclamation works in the South China Sea.
In 2012 the 45th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phenom Penh, Cambodia failed to reach a consensus and for the first time the meeting failed to issue a communique. Cambodia refused to agree to mentions of South China Sea disputes between Vietnam and the Philippines and China, claiming these were bilateral issues and therefore could not be mentioned in an Asean joint statement.
Whether this will be an issue again in Kuala Lumpur over China’s accelerated land reclamation work and recent confrontations in the South China Sea remains to be seen.
Running in parallel with the 48th Asean annual Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 48) is the 22nd Asean Regional Forum, the 16th Asean +3 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the fifth East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the Asean Post Ministerial Conference+1 sessions with Asean Dialogue Partners, and other related meetings.
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