BANGKOK -- Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday called on member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make more efforts in strengthening ASEAN-led mechanisms and enhancing regional cooperation.
Prayut was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and Related Meetings being held here as Thailand chairs the regional bloc this year.
Reviewing Thailand's work as the ASEAN chair for the past six months, Prayut said close cooperation within the bloc has produced a number of concrete outcomes, namely the ASEAN Leaders' Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability adopted by ASEAN leaders at the 34th Summit last month, and other projects directly benefitting ASEAN people.
He noted ASEAN must strengthen cooperation with its Dialogue Partners and other countries outside the region while also welcoming new cooperation with new partners to accomplish all of its goals.
Prayut proposed that three approaches should be considered to ensure continuity in carrying out the outcomes of various related meetings.
He called on ASEAN countries to strengthen mechanisms including the ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum, and ASEAN cooperation with Dialogue Partners to ensure sustainability in all dimensions for the benefit of the ASEAN peoples.
"For example, Thailand, as ASEAN Chair, has invited countries from outside the region to attend the ASEAN Smart Cities Network Conference and Exhibition scheduled for August in Bangkok so as to enhance ASEAN centrality," said the prime minister.
Prayut also suggested enhancing connectivity through the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the "connecting the connectivities" approach in various areas, including physical, people-to-people, financial, digital and trade, in particular by supporting the conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations this year, which is the joint aspiration of RCEP Leaders.
Meanwhile, he said countries, both big and small, should be invited to engage in cooperation based on the principle of the 3Ms, namely mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual benefit.
Besides the Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting, 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting, 26th ASEAN Regional Forum, and other related meetings are also to be held here from July 31 to August 2.
Established in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Xinhua)