Jakarta (ANTARA) - Heads of state and government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) emphasized the importance of ASEAN maintaining unity and centrality while engaging with external partners, according to a statement.

The statement released on Thursday was conveyed by the ASEAN leaders during the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara.

“We emphasized the critical importance for ASEAN to maintain its unity and centrality in our engagement with external partners… enhance mutual trust and confidence… to strengthen an open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture that upholds international law,” the statement stated.

The leaders also committed to continuing to contribute efforts toward the realization of the ASEAN Community Vision 2045 and delivering proactive responses to emerging challenges.

The heads of state reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN Plus Three (APT) cooperation and the need to strengthen the cooperation through the APT Cooperation Work Plan for the 2023–2027 period.

“We are committed to strengthening the APT mechanism, including, among others, the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) and APT Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), for strengthening regional resilience and preparedness against future shocks and crises,” the statement read.

Furthermore, ASEAN leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to the East Asia Summit (EAS) as a leader-led forum for dialogue and promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity in the region, with ASEAN as the driving force.

“We are committed to a single EAS Statement as the outcome document of the 18th East Asia Summit that emphasized EAS participating countries’ commitment to supporting the region as an epicenter of growth,” said the statement.

ASEAN is also looking forward to the adoption of the successor Plan of Action for the period from 2024 to 2028, it added.

The statement also reiterated the importance of the role of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in promoting dialogue and cooperation among its members and as a key platform for building mutual trust and confidence.

ARF also plays a role in consultations on regional political and security issues of common interest and concern.

“We reaffirmed the need to further enhance its effectiveness and maintain its relevance in the evolving regional security architecture with a view to building capacity, developing expertise, and enhancing coordination,” according to the statement.

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Reporter: Cindy Frishanti Octavia
Editor: Anton Santoso
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