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ADMM must stand firm, protect common interests: Ng Eng Hen

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has elaborated on the importance of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and its principles.

SINGAPORE: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has elaborated on the importance of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and its principles.

Speaking at the 8th ADMM in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on Tuesday, Dr Ng said: "The ADMM and all stakeholders must stand firm on principles such as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as adherence to international law.

"We must actively encourage resolution of disputes through peaceful means. The ADMM must give voice to these principles, and speak as one to protect our common interests while not taking sides in territorial disputes."

At the meeting, the ministers discussed regional security issues, including measures to ease tensions in the South China Sea (SCS).

They called on all parties to adhere to the articles in the Implementation Guidelines of the DOC which China and ASEAN have agreed, including "exercising self-restraint and avoiding actions that could escalate tensions", and stressed the need to work expeditiously towards an early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

The ministers also agreed to Brunei's proposal to establish a Direct Communications Link or hotline to keep the channels of communications open in the event of a crisis or emergency.

They also discussed and commended the good progress in practical cooperation under the ambit of the ADMM and the ADMM-Plus.

They agreed to adopt the ADMM Three-Year Work Programme and the Additional Protocol to the Concept Papers for the Establishment of the ADMM and ADMM-Plus.

They also welcomed the new workplans of the six ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Groups (EWGs), including the conduct of a joint ADMM-Plus counter-terrorism and maritime security (CT/MS) exercise in 2015.

The ministers also reaffirmed the need for militaries to work more closely together to strengthen the region's Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) capabilities and supported the establishment of a regional HADR coordination centre, to be hosted in Singapore, which would allow the militaries to respond speedily and effectively to a disaster situation.

Dr Ng and the other ministers also signed a Joint Declaration reaffirming the principles and purposes enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation; as well as ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional security architecture.

They also jointly called on Myanmar President Thein Sein and had an informal meeting with the Chinese Minister of National Defence, General (GEN) Chang Wanquan, on Tuesday afternoon.

The ministers also issued a statement expressing condolences and sympathies to the government and People of Laos on the tragic plane crash on May 17 which killed several Lao leaders and senior government officials, including Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence, Lieutenant-General (LG) Douangchay Phichit.

While in Nay Pyi Taw, Dr Ng also held bilateral meetings with Brunei's Minister of Energy Yasmin Umar, Malaysian Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein, Myanmar Minister of Defence LG Wai Lwin, Philippine Secretary of Defence Voltaire Gazmin, Vietnam's Minister of National Defence GEN Phung Quang Thanh and GEN Chang Wanquan.

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