KARON, PHUKET: The Asean Senior Officials meeting held at the Movenpick Resort and Spa from May 18 to 21 resulted in a number of agreements in addition to the previously reported agreement to hold the twice-postponed Asean Summit in Phuket next October.
Manasvi Srisodapol, deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Asean Affairs, told the Gazette that the Phuket meetings also achieved important decisions on key issues in the region and on moving regional co-operation forward in many areas.
“The Asean Senior Officials Meeting is a meeting between senior officials of the 10 Asean member states. They discussed important issues such as recent developments in Myanmar, which subsequently led to the issuance of the Asean Chairman’s Statement on May 18,” he said.
That statement warned that the “honor and credibility” of the Burmese regime was at stake and called for the immediate release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now on trial for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.
Ms Suu Kyi is accused of greeting an American journalist who swam across a pond outside her compound to speak with her.
The statement also reaffirmed the readiness of Asean members to help Burma with a peaceful transition to democracy. It was subsequently lauded by the US and EU, but lambasted by the Burmese junta, which accused the Thai-written statement as unprecedented meddling in its internal affairs.
“The officials also discussed preparations for the annual meeting of Asean foreign ministers, an event that would take place in Thailand in July 2009 and include meetings with foreign ministers of 10 other countries that we refer to as ‘dialogue partners’, as well as a meeting of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) comprising foreign ministers from 27 countries which addresses regional security,” Mr Mansvi said.
“The ARF Senior Officials Meeting comprising 27 countries also met and exchanged views on important regional and international issues, such as recent developments in Myanmar and the Korean Peninsula, and basically agreed on a draft ARF Vision Statement prepared by Thailand which would be presented to the ARF Ministerial Meeting in July to commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the ARF.
“This document essentially lays down goals and objectives of the ARF by 2020 to enhance co-operation in addressing and reducing all threats to regional peace and security, including those affecting people’s lives such as threats from terrorism, transnational crime, pandemics, natural disasters and so on.
“As you can see the results of the meetings in Phuket underscored support from all countries on Thailand’s chairmanship of Asean, as well as the goals, objectives and priorities that Thailand has set for Asean for the duration of its chairmanship until the end of this year.
“The meetings were attended by senior officials from all 27 countries, confirming once again the overall confidence these countries have for Thailand as a meeting place and tourist destination,” Mr Mansvi concluded.
— Kamol Pirat & Stephen Fein
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