Your Royal Highness,
His Excellency Dr. Hassan Wirajuda, and ASEAN colleagues,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

        On behalf of our ASEAN colleagues, I would like to take this opportunity to express our warmest congratulation to His Excellency Dr. Hassan Wirajuda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, and his competent team work for the successful chairmanship of the 37th ASEAN Standing Committee.

        I would also like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to His Excellency Ong Keng Yong, Secretary General and the whole staff of the ASEAN Secretariat for their important contribution to the success of the ASEAN Standing Committee.

        In the past twelve months, Indonesia has steered ASEAN to a new level of cooperation. The Declaration of Bali Concord II adopted by our Leaders in Bali last October aiming to establish the ASEAN Community through the three pillars towards the realisation of the ASEAN Vision 2020 has been one of the most outstanding and strategic document in the history of our Association. It envisions that ASEAN will live in peace, in a collective security, in a prosperous and integrated ASEAN as well as in a harmony of diverse cultures.

        At the same time, while ASEAN economic integration is continuing to consolidate and a good progress in many other areas of cooperation is being observed, ASEAN has further broadened and deepened its cooperation with our Dialogue Partners, Non- Dialogue Partners, and regional and international organisations. Of particular importance is a success in advancing its “outward-looking” policy and further strengthen our relations and cooperation with the Plus Three Countries and India. Two major powers. China and India have acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (‘[AC). Japan and Pakistan are likely to acceed to the same instrument in the next few days. Furthermore, a number of important documents on expanding and deepening ASEAN-Dialogue Partners relationship have also been endorsed at the 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali.

        The decision to establish the ARF and the ASEAN + 3 Units at the ASEAN Secretariat demonstrates ASEAN’s readiness to continue playing the leading role in this Security Forum and in the ASEAN + 3 cooperation.

Mr. Chairman,

        Much was accomplished during the term of Indonesia’s chairmanship which will remain in our heart and mind for long as there have been a number of significant events taken place. However, many new developments and challenges still remained before us, among others, how we make concerted effort in mobilising all potentials and available resources to deepen ASEAN integration by narrowing the development gap within ASEAN. In this regard, I do hope that the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP) will be finalised shortly for the adoption at the forthcoming 10th ASEAN Summit in late November 2004 in Vientiane. Likewise, there is a need to keep ASEAN identity and relevance amidst impending changes in the world order, and to respond effectively to the impacts arising from globalisation. We also need to effectively reform ASEAN institutional framework to meet the wider scope of cooperation in the years to come.

Mr. Chairman,

        Under its stewardship, Indonesia has successfully led the cause of ASEAN. It is our common achievement which Laos is entrusted to build upon. While being very committed to fulfil its noble task as the incoming Chairman of the 38th ASC, the Government of Laos expresses its gratitude to all ASEAN Member Countries and the ASEAN Secretariat for their continued invaluable support and cooperation in its ongoing preparations to assume the 38th ASC Chair.

        Once again, congratulations to Indonesia and I look forward to warmly welcoming our ASEAN colleagues to the 38th AMM in Vientiane. Thank you!