ASEAN Ministers of Defence met to exchange views on ways and means to further enhance regional security and defence cooperation. This was one of the outcomes of the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh on 29 May 2012, under the chairmanship of Cambodia.

This year, the ASEAN Defence Ministers agreed to shorten the interval of the ADMM-Plus meetings as reflected in the Concept Paper on the Review of Frequency of the ADMM-Plus meetings which the Ministers adopted in the meeting today. With the new interval of meetings, the ADMM-Plus will meet every two years from 2013 onwards as compared to once in three years previously.

ASEAN decided to further intensify their engagement with the Plus Countries as it provides a platform for dialogue and consultation at the ministerial level in the areas of peace, security, and stability in the region. Nonetheless, the Ministers continued to reiterate the importance of maintaining ASEAN centrality within the ADMM-Plus process. The ASEAN partners in the ADMM-Plus process – known also as the Plus countries, are Australia, China, India, Japan, the ROK, New Zealand, Russia and the USA.

The ASEAN Defence Ministers also signed the Joint Declaration on Enhancing ASEAN Unity for a Harmonised and Secure Community. The Joint Declaration highlighted the progress achieved by the ADMM and the ADMM-plus in recent years as well as various areas in which cooperation could be enhanced. The issue of South China Sea was touched upon.

In their discussions, the Ministers concurred that defence and military cooperation between ASEAN and China remained unaffected. The Ministers also stressed that ASEAN and China remain committed to seeking peaceful resolutions in the South China Sea.

As a realisation of ASEAN’s endeavor to intensify practical cooperation, ASEAN is preparing for the first ever ADMM-Plus Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Exercise (AHMX). To be hosted by Brunei Darussalam tentatively in June 2013 the AHMX , which will be held back-to-back with the 2nd ASEAN Militaries’ HADR Exercise (AHX), will comprise a table-top and live exercise.

For The Joint Declaration on Enhancing ASEAN Unity for a Harmonised and Secure Community Document, Click here