Enhancing ASEAN Defence Relations for Peace, Security, and Self-reliance

The recent ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM-Retreat) was held under the leadership of General Chansamone Chanyalath, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence of Laos.

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The Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) and Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen. Nguyen Tan Cuong led a Vietnamese delegation to the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM-Retreat) held in the northern Lao city of Luang Prabang on March 5 (local time), according to VNS.

In his address, Cuonng described 2024 as a crucial year to develop a long-term strategy for ASEAN’s post-2025 vision, reinforcing ASEAN’s previous achievements; strengthening its solidarity, unity, central role, and self-resilience with a shared vision and strategic choice, which is cooperation and joint action for peace, stability, and security in the region, while enhancing the ability to adapt to new developments in the global and regional landscapes.

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Tan Cuong at the meeting. Source: mod.gov.vn

According to him, the expansion of ASEAN’s defence relations through the establishment of the ADMM+ and the deployment of seven ADMM+ Experts’ Working Groups (EWGs) has also demonstrated that ADMM+ is an effective mechanism to build trust, facilitate cooperation, and dialogue between ASEAN and its partners.

The increasing interest from external partners in joining ADMM+ in various forms reflects the success and attractiveness of this mechanism, he said.

To uphold ASEAN’s central role and strategic value, and create momentum for dialogue processes, build trust for peace, security, and stability in the region and the world, he said cooperation activities within the framework of ADMM and ADMM+ need to adhere to the fundamental principles of the ASEAN Charter and ASEAN regulations and processes, respect the independence and self-reliance of ASEAN countries, and make practical and responsible contributions to regional peace, stability, and common security.

All delegates in a joint photo. Source: mod.gov.vn

Vietnam supports the continued implementation of the ADMM+EWG observership program and welcomes new participants to make practical and effective contributions to peace, cooperation, and development in the region. He stressed the need to be consistent with ASEAN’s stance and principles on international and regional issues that directly affect ASEAN in order to maintain and promote its unity and solidarity.

On the occasion, Cuong invited defense and military leaders, defense industry enterprises, and military music bands of ASEAN countries to the second Vietnam International Defense Expo and the ASEAN military music exchange in Vietnam on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Vietnam People’s Army later this year.

Vietnam consistently advocates for peaceful dialogue and diplomacy in resolving disputes. He emphasized that in the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea) issue, Vietnam remains committed to upholding international law, adhering to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and fully implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC). Vietnam hopes to soon conclude a more concrete, effective, and legally binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

At the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (ADMM-Retreat) on March 5 in Laos. Source: mod.gov.vn

Heads of delegations all agreed on the need for ASEAN to strengthen its solidarity, maintain its central role, and take the lead in regional cooperation mechanisms to effectively respond to emerging traditional and non-traditional security challenges such as armed conflicts, competition between major powers, cybersecurity, natural disasters, pandemics, and climate change.

They also committed to maintaining the role of ADMM and ADMM+ as the highest-level ministerial defense and military cooperation mechanisms for ASEAN member states and partner countries.

The meeting adopted a Joint Statement on ADMM’s achievements in service of the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Tan Cuong also held bilateral meetings with Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath and Cambodian Deputy Minister and Minister of National Defence Gen. Tea Siha in Luang Prabang on March 4.

They evaluated bilateral cooperation over the past time and discussed cooperation orientations in the coming time, particularly in the areas of Party and political affairs, border management and protection, human resources training, and defense industry.

Hannah Nguyen