Manama, 26 November 2013
At the invitation of His Excellency Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain, their Highnesses and Excellencies the Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their 3rd Ministerial Meeting on Tuesday, November 26, 2013, in Manama, Bahrain.
The Ministers discussed issues of common interest and concerns, with the aim of enhancing and strengthening relations of both sides, and activating mechanisms and working groups established following the 2nd Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in 2010. They also reviewed the outcomes and recommendations made by those working groups to boost cooperation and deepen relations between the organizations representing two strategic regions that have major international economic and commercial importance, and whose significance has placed them in focus of other blocs and countries.
The Ministers commended the insightful vision of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, presented to the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2009, which stressed the importance of developing and activating the Asian dimension of GCC ties, in general, and the GCC – ASEAN relations.
The two sides welcomed the decision to choose Manama as the first Asian capital of tourism for the year 2014. The decision enhances and deepens the cooperation and creates a vital connection between the Asian nations and their people, and develops economic, commercial and cultural ties between the two sides.
The Ministers expressed their condolences and sympathies to the Government and People of the Republic of Philippines for the devastation and the loss of lives caused by the recent Typhoon Haiyan.
The Ministers underlined the importance of the following principles and values:
- 1.Respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, on the basis of the principles of good neighborliness, the Charter of the United Nations, the ASEAN Charter, the Statute of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and the principles of international law.
- 2.Working to strengthen the economic, cultural and scientific partnership and connectivity between the GCC and ASEAN, as well as to deepen and institutionalise relations based on the activities of the six sectoral working groups established at the 2nd GCC – ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore in 2010 namely (i) Working Group on Trade and Investment, (ii) Working Group on Education, (iii) Working Group on Culture and Information, (iv) Working Group on Food Security & Agricultural Investment, (v) Working Group on Energy, and (vi) Working Group on Tourism.
- 3.Working towards global and regional peace and stability as the basis for global economic development and prosperity.
- 4.Condemnation of all acts of violence, terrorism, and piracy that threaten maritime security, safety of navigation and international trade, as well as underlining the importance of protecting straits, sea lanes and other waters used for international navigation, in accordance with international law and relevant international conventions.
The Ministers welcomed initiatives to support the implementation of the Roadmap for the establishment of ASEAN Community in 2015.
The Ministers reaffirmed the recognition by all GCC states and the ASEAN Member States of the importance of enhancing economic and trade cooperation especially in the agricultural field with a view to address food security, as well as cooperation in the cultural, tourism, media and education fields. The Ministers reiterated their support for an open, fair, transparent and rules-based multilateral trading system and look forward to the successful outcome of the Doha Development Round at the 9th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Bali in December 2013 which will include trade facilitation, some elements of agriculture and a set of development issues that would be a stepping stone towards seeking the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).
The Ministers also underlined their support for continued meetings between them, and for strengthening the working groups established at the 2nd ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, with proposals and recommendations to be presented to the next ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting.
The Ministers welcomed the economic and developmental progress in GCC States and the ASEAN Member States, which has made them among the most developed countries in the field of human development, according to the 2012 Human Development Report issued by the United Nations Development Programme.
The Ministers exchanged views on the importance of energy cooperation to address major energy challenges. In this regard, the Ministers called for greater cooperation in areas including energy efficiency and renewable energy to enhance the rational use of energy.
The Ministers acknowledged the deep-rooted ties between the GCC states and the ASEAN Member States, as well as the civilizational and cultural dimension that binds them. The promotion of respect for diversity, interfaith dialogue and moderation through education, culture, media and tourism as well as and people-to-people activities are fundamental pillars to minimize extremist actions as well as to deepen mutual trust and understanding. Cooperation in these areas is among the most important pillars of strength for the two regions, which could enhance both their model for development and their international role. The Ministers also look forward to the 6th Meeting of the Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilization in 2014 in Bali, Indonesia, which aims to promote mutual understanding, respect and tolerance among various cultures and across civilizations.
The Ministers agreed to enhance their cooperation and coordination in multilateral fora such as the United Nations, on global issues of common interest including the attainment of the MDGs and preparations for the post-2015 development agenda, addressing non-traditional security issues such as terrorism, drugs trafficking, money laundering, cybercrime, pandemics and natural disasters as well as climate change.
The Ministers welcomed the exchange of accredited Ambassadors of GCC States to ASEAN and the Ambassadors of ASEAN Member States to GCC States at the two Secretariats, which aims to bolster communication and coordination between them. The Ministers also emphasized the importance of closer cooperation between the ASEAN Committee in Riyadh (ACR) and the GCC Secretariat in Riyadh as well as regular consultations between Committee Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR) and the GCC Ambassadors accredited to ASEAN, particularly in exploring ways and means to enhance the ASEAN-GCC cooperation.
The Ministers encouraged both Secretariats of GCC and ASEAN to play a more active role, particularly to follow up activities of various working groups, enhance coordination between them, and present a follow-up report through their senior officials to the ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meetings.
The Ministers agreed that the Kingdom of Bahrain will be the GCC’s country coordinator for ASEAN-GCC relations for the next three years, in coordination with the GCC Presidency.
The Ministers agreed to organise a workshop/forum in Singapore during the first half of 2014 for officials, private sector, and other relevant stakeholders, to identify concrete steps to accelerate ASEAN-GCC cooperation in areas where practical activities could be identified and implemented. They instructed the two Secretariats to prepare working papers to serve as a basis for discussion at the workshop.
The Ministers accepted Myanmar’s request to hold the next ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting in Myanmar in 2014.
The Ministers expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom of Bahrain for its generous hospitality, and welcomed the excellent arrangements for this meeting.