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Closer regional cooperation on security matters is on the cards, after the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Council meeting in Ha Noi today noted a proposal by the ASEAN Chair, Viet Nam, to host a Meeting of the ASEAN Chiefs of Homeland Security in the future. The region’s senior officials are now expected to flesh out the details of this new mechanism.

Among other issues, the 4th Meeting of the APSC Council today also reviewed the recent developments on areas under the purview of the APSC, which include the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus 8. The ADMM Plus 8 framework represents ASEAN’s efforts to engage its Dialogue Partners on regional defence and security issues. The APSC also welcomed the progress made on the ASEAN Security Outlook, which aims to promote greater transparency and understanding of defence policies and security perceptions.

Stressing the importance of enhancing coordination within the overall APSC pillar, especially on cross-cutting issues, the APSC called for the creation of synergies between the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting.

The APSC also agreed to work on the ASEAN Declaration on Humanitarian Assistance to People and Vessels in Distress at Sea.

The APSC Meeting comes ahead of the beginning of the 43rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, which will commence tomorrow. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers will proceed to the Informal Working Dinner this evening.

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Earlier, the Commission for the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) met and reviewed the progress of implementation of the Plan of Action to strengthen the implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty. The Plan of Action identifies measures and actions which State Parties to the Treaty shall endeavour to pursue from 2007 to2012.

Building upon the momentum of the global nuclear agenda currently over the past one year, the Commission decided to intensify efforts to encourage the accession to the Protocol of the SEANWFZ Treaty by the Nuclear Weapon States. The profile of the SEANWFZ in multilateral fora and international organisations was raised recently when Viet Nam, as the Chair of the SEANWFZ Commission, had on behalf of ASEAN delivered a Statement at the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York on 4 May 2010. The Statement, among others, had expressed ASEAN’s belief that NWFZ’s constitute an important measure to strengthen nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and that the ASEAN Member States would continue to work with the Nuclear Weapons States towards their early signing of the SEANWFZ Protocol and expand cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

This comes in the wake of the adoption of two ASEAN-sponsored Resolutions on the SEANWFZ Treaty at the 62nd and 64th session of the UN General Assembly on 5 December 2007 and 2 December 2009 respectively. Both Resolutions reiterate the important contributions of the Treaty towards strengthening the security of States in the region and towards enhancing international peace and security as a whole.