Transcript of PM Lee Hsien Loong's Opening Remarks at the Press Conference by the ASEAN Chair on the 32nd ASEAN Summit.
Good afternoon everybody, thank you for being here today for the press conference at the end of the 32nd ASEAN Summit.
We have had fruitful discussions with my fellow ASEAN Leaders yesterday and today.
We have adopted several deliverables which are in line with our priorities this year for ASEAN to strengthen its resilience and innovative capacity.
One, is the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision for a Resilient and Innovative ASEAN which reaffirms the key principles for ASEAN cooperation and articulates our common vision. Second, the establishment of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network which uses technology to improve the lives and livelihood of our people; in all ten countries, 26 cities. Thirdly, the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation to deepen regional cooperation and coordination to keep up with the rapid pace of digitalisation.
I am also pleased also to announce several other initiatives to strengthen the ASEAN Community. We finalised the Model ASEAN Extradition Treaty (MAET) last month at the working level, looking forward to completing it and commencing work on an actual ASEAN Extradition Treaty as the next step. There is a Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund in Singapore. We will revitalise it with a 5 million dollar top-up to support initiatives by ASEAN youths. We will set up an annual training workshop in Singapore, called the ASEAN Law Academy programme, for officials, legal practitioners and legal educators to promote ASEAN legal integration and legal education.
We also had good discussions on regional issues and ASEAN’s external engagements.
We reiterated our commitment to ASEAN unity and centrality, and to upholding an open and inclusive, rules-based regional architecture. We agreed to work to intensively towards an early conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership this year. On the Korean Peninsula, we agreed to continue to support efforts to secure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner. On the recent developments, ASEAN welcomes the Inter-Korean Summit yesterday, DPRK Leader Mr Kim Jong Un’s earlier visit to China, and the plans for US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un to meet in the near future. The Inter-Korean Summit supports steps to decrease tensions and improve inter-Korean relations, and it will contribute to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and in the region. On the South China Sea, we had a useful exchange of views. The situation is relatively calmer this past year. There has been progress made on the implementation of practical measures under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) which have helped to build trust and prevent miscalculations on the ground. We have commenced negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) last month, and I look forward to the early conclusion of an effective COC.
We also received a briefing from Myanmar on Rakhine State. The situation is a complex and intercommunal issue. It dates back to many decades, more than half a century, and is of concern to all ASEAN countries. We have mobilised the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) to deliver assistance to all affected communities in Rakhine State. We encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to press on with their shared commitment to carry out the voluntary return of displaced persons in a “safe, secure and dignified” way without undue delay. ASEAN stands ready to support efforts by all parties to work towards a long-term viable solution so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives.
Overall, I am pleased that we have completed a promising and productive first step in Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship. I greatly appreciate the support Singapore has received from our fellow ASEAN Leaders and look forward to pressing with the agenda and welcoming my fellow leaders back to Singapore again later this year.
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