Your Royal Highness,
Distinguished members of the press,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Yesterday, we began a series of important ministerial meetings between ASEAN and its Dialogue Partner countries. At these meetings, ASEAN sought to reinforce its ties of friendship, partnership and cooperation with its Dialogue Partners.

We recognize that we are holding our ministerial meetings at a time when old enemies have become friends, new forces unleashed and new architectures are forming.

Regional Financial Situation

The Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) provided a venue for discussions on future approaches to resolve the regional financial situation. There was a healthy exchange of views on shared responsibilities, on the need for economic restructuring, on the necessity of keeping markets open, and on the review of the international financial architecture. Our Dialogue Partners have expressed their valuable support and commitment to ASEAN at this crucial time.

To this end, the US reaffirmed its full support on strengthening the capabilities of multilateral financial and development institutions to restore financial stability in Asia. China reiterated its commitment not to devalue the yuan, while Japan expressed its firm commitment to implement financial and economic restructuring. Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) sought to improve understanding of the implications of the European Monetary Union (EMU) on the region by offering to conduct regional seminars on the Euro.

Acknowledging the need to address the negative effects of-the crisis, ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners agreed to set in place programmes designed to assist those burdened by the crisis. Australia, Canada, India, Japan and Russia all committed to sponsor programmes that would enhance human resource development (HRD), science and technology (S&T) and institutional capacity-building in line with ASEAN’s vision of a community of caring societies. Recognizing the importance of establishing social safety nets, Thailand’s proposal for an ASEAN- PMC Caucus on Social Safety Nets was welcomed as a first step towards a concerted effort to address this concern.

The ASEAN Foundation, which. was launched in Jakarta this month, is a concrete approach which ASEAN has adopted to address the negative social impacts of the crisis. The Foundation will implement programs in human-resource development, poverty eradication, and people-to-people exchange. The Dialogue Partners responded favorably to our request for them to make significant contributions to the Foundation’s operational and endowment funds.

International Political Issues

ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners likewise discussed events unfolding beyond the ASEAN region, such as in the Middle East, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In the interest of enhancing regional and global stability, ASEAN urged its Dialogue Partners to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia, the Second Protocol of which allows non-Southeast Asian states to associate themselves with the Treaty.

ASEAN also emphasized further consultations with Dialogue Partners on their accession to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty, especially with the nuclear weapons states (NWS).

Transnational Concerns

ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners agreed to strengthen cooperation in addressing environmental problems and transnational crime.

ASEAN, having recently signed the Joint Declaration for a Drug-Free ASEAN, sought the Dialogue Partners’ collaboration in the fight against illicit drug trafficking. The Dialogue Partners expressed their support for ASEAN’s initiatives. ASEAN expressed appreciation for the efforts of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the US to assist us in this endeavor.

In this connection, the PMC adopted New Zealand’s proposal to periodically review progress in the implementation of ASEAN’s Joint Declaration. The review is to be undertaken by the ASEAN Secretariat. The PMC also expressed support for Vietnam’s plan to host in the near future a regional conference on drug-abuse.

Being supportive of the ASEAN Declaration on Transnational Crime, our Dialogue Partners raised the issue of trafficking in women and children, and urged cooperation in both multilateral and regional fora to achieve a comprehensive approach to the problem, A proposal will be submitted by Thailand to convene an International Symposium on Regional, Cooperation on Irregular/Undocumented Migration.

The issues of forest fires, haze and climate change were also discussed. Australia, Canada, EU, Japan, New Zealand and the US associated themselves with the ASEAN Regional Haze Action Plan and firmed up cooperation on these environmental issues.

This year’s Post Ministerial Conferences clearly strengthened partnership between ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners, I wish to extend my deepest appreciation to the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and Dialogue Partner countries for the valuable support and cooperation they extended to the Philippines’ chairmanship.

Thank you very much. We will now welcome questions from you.