ASEAN, Canada agree to soon lift ties to strategic partnership

ASEAN logo. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HANOI, Sep 11, 2020, VNS. ASEAN and Canada have agreed to soon elevate their dialogue relationship to a Strategic Partnership during the ASEAN-Canada Ministerial Meeting held online on September 10 as part of the 53rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM-53), Vietnam News reported.

The foreign ministers highly valued Canada’s active participation in ASEAN-established and led mechanisms, especially the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Countries acknowledged Canada’s wish to participate more deeply in other ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

ASEAN also appreciated Canada’s timely support for the region’s fight against COVID-19, with the provision of medical protective equipment worth 4.5 million CAD.

Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne expressed his support for ASEAN’s central role in the dynamically developing regional architecture. He announced a grant of approximately CAD$10 million for the Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) programme.

Speaking at the meeting, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Bình Minh spoke highly of Canada’s active and constructive participation in ASEAN’s efforts for a region of peace, stability and development.

Việt Nam welcomes Canada for supporting ASEAN initiatives to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, Minh said, expressed his wish that Canada will cooperate with and support ASEAN in minimising the COVID-19 impacts in all aspects and in post-pandemic recovery.

At the end of the meeting, the ministers agreed to approve the ASEAN-Canada Action Plan 2021-2025.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has underscored the US’s commitment to working with ASEAN countries for economic recovery efforts.

Speaking at the annual ASEAN-United States Foreign Ministers’ meeting with his counterparts from ASEAN via videoconference yesterday, Pompeo reiterated the US would work with the region in its economic recovery with the support of the US private sector.

Pompeo praised ASEAN Chair Việt Nam for its work convening ASEAN Foreign Ministers during these unprecedented times.

ASEAN countries said they appreciated the US-ASEAN Strategic Partnership, considering it an important factor for ensuring peace, stability and development in the region and welcomed the establishment of Mekong-US Partnership.

They were also appreciative of the support from the US over the years, especially the initiative US-ASEAN Heath Futures Programme and support for human capital development.

Addressing the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh praised the US’s efforts to implement the ASEAN-US Health Future Programme Initiative to strengthen the response to emergency situations and welcome the US to open a regional office for US Centre for Diseases Control in Viet Nam.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he expected the ASEAN-USAID Regional Development Cooperation Agreement would be signed soon and appreciated the US pledge to provide US$5 million to set up the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiatives Academy (YSEALI) at Fulbright University in Việt Nam.

At the end of the meeting, the ministers endorsed a Plan of Action to carry out ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership (2021-25) with concrete actions to put into practice and on schedule.

Later in the day, ASEAN foreign ministers were also engaged in the ASEAN-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the ASEAN-New Zealand Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

A dialogue between ASEAN foreign ministers and representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the ASEAN ministerial-level dialogue on promoting women’s role towards sustainable peace and security were also held on the same day.

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