In marking the 5th anniversary of the East Asia Summit (EAS), the EAS Foreign Ministers’ Informal Consultations held in Ha Noi yesterday recommended that the 5th EAS in October 2010 issue an EAS Vision Statement. The Vision Statement, among others, will emphasise the fundamental principles of the EAS and chart out the future direction of the forum.

In addition, taking a cue from the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held on 20 July, the EAS Ministers welcomed the interest of the Russian Federation and the United States to join the EAS. They also welcomed ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ recommendation to the ASEAN Leaders at the 17th ASEAN Summit in Ha Noi in October 2010 to formally make the decision on inviting the Russian Federation and the United States to join the EAS with appropriate arrangements and timing. They emphasised that such arrangements should be based on the promotion of existing EAS agenda and priorities.

The EAS Ministers, in a Chairman’s Statement released after the meeting, expressed their full support for the current Chair of ASEAN, Viet Nam, and subsequent ASEAN Chairs to participate in the forthcoming and future G-20 Summits. This was in recognition of the central role of ASEAN in the region and its constructive contributions.

In terms of specific areas, the Meeting agreed on the importance of promoting science and innovation cooperation aimed at raising the capability of research and development. The EAS currently has five priority areas, namely finance, energy, education, avian flu prevention and disaster management. They also supported the establishment of an East Asia Environmental Education Centre in Viet Nam as agreed by the 1st EAS Environment Ministers’ Meeting in October 2008. They also agreed to work further on the initiative to convene an East Asia Forum on Climate Change as proposed by Viet Nam.

Meanwhile, at the 11th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held earlier, the Ministers noted recent developments in the ASEAN Plus Three regional financial cooperation such as the realisation of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) and the on-going preparation for the ASEAN Plus Three Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), which is to be set up in the first quarter of 2011 in Singapore. The agreement of the 13th ASEAN Plus Three Finance Ministers’ Meeting in May 2010 to endorse the establishment of the ASEAN Plus Three Bond Market Forum and establish the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility was also noted by the Ministers in the ASEAN Plus Three Chairman’s Statement.

The Plus Three Foreign Ministers reaffirmed the importance of ensuring food and energy security and in this regard welcomed the decision to create the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve as a permanent mechanism to ensure rice security in the region and intention to develop a comprehensive strategy on sustainable and integrated food and bio-fuels production and consumption. While they reaffirmed the need to strengthen cooperation in addressing threats of disease outbreaks, the Ministers expressed satisfaction with the successful completion of the ASEAN Plus Three Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme Phase II and looked forward to the commencement of the next phase. The Ministers also welcomed efforts to develop an ASEAN Roadmap on Control of Avian Influenza to ensure the attainment of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza-free ASEAN by 2020.