Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past two days, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers have engaged close review and consultation concerning many important issues, both in plenary and at the Retreat. We have drawn inspiration from Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai’s Opening Address, and have pondered over many new ideas and concepts. We have discussed common policies and reiterated basic principles that have guided ASEAN well over the past thirty-plus yews. At the same time, we remain committed to being relevant and pragmatic, resourceful and innovative, and ready to confront the challenges of the new Millennium.

It has been an eventful and challenging year for Thailand as Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC), both in the number and complexity of issues that ASEAN has had to face, as well as in the new initiatives that. we in ASEAN have embarked upon ourselves. Having ascended to the at the dawn of the new century, Thailand has assumed a position firmly resolved to fulfill our responsibilities, while resolutey pursuing our common vision of the future. Our main efforts, as the Millennium Chair have been to bridge the gap of the last century and to secure for our posterity the benefits of a more vibrant ASEAN community.

For in addition to being able to relate to the progress of the last thirty- plus years, we are a firm believer in looking forward, in being dynamic and pro-active. We have emerged from this ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) reinvigorated and revitalized, full of new ideas and renewed confidence in the direction and path that we have set for ourselves.

During our deliberations, we discussed issues related to our activities during the next few days as well as the common goals we look forward to over the next few decades. These include our common. plans for ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, efforts towards promoting human resource and ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation. as well as enhancing information technology cooperation among member countries.

The AMM has supported in principle Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai’s proposal for an ASEAN Trade Fair and has commended it to the relevant Ministers for consideration. Recognising that our peoples remain our most valuable resource, we have agreed to continue exploring possibilities for setting up the infrastructure for human resource development in the region, including the ASEAN Fund for Human Resource Development, with the assistance of other countries, to support ASEAN’s efforts in this area. In short, we remain committed to strengthening our cooperative efforts and expediting the integration of ASEAN.

The development of the Mekong Sub-region is indeed a very significant agenda for ASEAN. We will renew our efforts to engage our Dialogue Partners and other international organizations in supporting Mekong Sub-region Development and to exchange information on what each member country is doing in this area. Such -data will be consolidated by the ASEAN Secretariat. At the same time, Thailand has successfully worked with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the  Pacific (ESCAP) to proclaim the years 2000 to 2009 as the Decade of Greater Mekong Sub-region Development Cooperation. And we now understand that it is going through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). A positive result is expected soon. As I stated earlier it is hoped that the compelling need for the international community to further assist in the development of this important region will receive the attention it duly deserves.

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Most important for this AMM is the belief shared by all. of us that ASEAN should continue to enhance its interaction, not only in the way ASEAN members deal with one another, but in the activities that member countries could undertake for our mutual Interests. This stems from the belief that closer exchanges and contacts will serve to promote better understanding and goodwill Recognising the benefit of open and informal discussions, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers have therefore agreed to convene more informal retreats as and when necessary. These meetings would be geared towards open and substantial discussions, problem-solving, and concerted-action.

While ASEAN would need to strengthen further its consultative Processes, it bas been acknowledged that there must be a mechanism to allow the ASC Chair some latitude and flexibility to undertake actions geared towards timely response. The decision of the Third ASEAN Informal Summit to set up the ASEAN Troika and the AMN’s subsequent development of the principles and purposes for the Troika’s operations would enable ASEAN to address more effectively, and to cooperate more closely, on issues affecting peace and stability of the region.

Excellencies,
Ladies-and Gentlemen,

We welcome the signing today of three very important documents the Joint Declaration for a Socially Cohesive and Caring ASEAN, (2) the ASEAN Declaration on Cultural Heritage, and (3) Revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Establishment of the ASEAN Foundation. In addition, have agreed to speed up the Implementation of the Joint Declaration for a Drug-Free ASEAN from 2020 to 2015.

These documents serve to reaffirm ASEAN’s firm commitment to Social promotion and development and signify our intention to place greater emphasis on the development of the peoples of the region. In discussing the drive for a comprehensive development agenda, we have generally agreed, to place people at the centre, at the core, and at the focus of all our individual

Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished Colleagues,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a closing, let me take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation once again to all my ASEAN colleagues for the strong support and cooperation extended to me and my officials throughout Thailand’s chairmanship over the past year. We value above all the understanding and goodwill, as well as the guidance and support presented to us. I also wish to take this opportunity to thank His Excellency Mr. Rodolfo C. Severino, Jr., the Secretary-General of ASEAN, and his staff for the firm, support provided to the Thai Chair over the past year, And before I declare the 33rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting closed, let me request my good friend, Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien, as the incoming Chairman of the 30 ASEAN Standing Committee, to say a few words.

Thank you.