ASEAN defence leaders reaffirm commitment to strengthen regional cooperation

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SINGAPORE: The defence ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen regional cooperation on Wednesday (Jun 22), Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a news release. 

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to attend the 16th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM), the first ADMM to be held in person after two years of virtual meetings.

The ASEAN defence ministers also held informal meetings with China and Japan, and jointly called on Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Speaking after the meeting, Dr Ng said that the discussions were productive and covered a range of current security issues, including on threats in the cyber and information domain.

The meeting adopted the Terms of Reference of the Singapore-hosted ADMM Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence (ACICE).

The centre was established last year to boost regional cooperation against threats in the cyber and information domains.

Dr Ng added that the ADMM had issued a substantive Joint Declaration urging the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

He also emphasised ASEAN’s efforts to bring about a peaceful transition to normalcy in Myanmar through the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, which was reached during an ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in April 2021.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in January 2022 that there has not been “any significant progress” in the implementation of the Consensus.

During his visit, Dr Ng also called on Cambodia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Tea Banh.

"Both parties reaffirmed friendly bilateral defence ties between Singapore and Cambodia, as well as the importance of ASEAN centrality and unity amid geopolitical developments," said MINDEF.

The 16th ADMM adopted a declaration that reaffirmed the countries' commitment to "enhance strategic dialogue and practical defence cooperation" through the ADMM and the ADMM-Plus.

It highlighted the "importance of ASEAN centrality in upholding a rules-based regional order anchored in international law", said MINDEF.

The ADMM-Plus is a platform for ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

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