HANOI -- The mechanisms established by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have contributed to maintaining strategic balance, as well as peace and stability in the region, according to a top Asean official.

Mechanisms such as the Asean Regional Forum, East Asia Summit and Asia Plus Three helped the Asian-Pacific region to tighten ties and solve tensions, which otherwise could have led to conflicts, especially those related to nuclear weapons and sovereignty in the East Sea, said Asean Secretary General Le Luong Minh.

He said this while highlighting the bloc's milestones during its 50 years of existence in an interview with Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

The most important milestone in Asean's history was the establishment of the Asean Community in December 2015 and the launch of the Asean Vision 2025 on January 1, 2016, towards a self-reliant, legally-binding and people-centered community, he said.

The Asean was established in 1967 with only five members - Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. The purpose at that time was to deal with security-related risks amid the Cold War and the war in Indochina, Minh said.

The bloc then admitted Brunei in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999.

"These moves completed its initial target of connecting all Southeast Asian countries, which are diverse in their political institution, economic structure, cultural identity, language and religion," the Secretary General said.

In 2003, the bloc issued the Declaration of Asean Concord-II, identifying the objective of establishing an Asean Community with three pillars of politics-security, economics and culture-society, Minh said.

The Asean Charter in 2007 created a legal foundation and institutional framework for strengthening regional connectivity and establishing the Asean Community in 2015, he said.

The Secretary General stressed the need for Asean to speed up the harmonization of the member nations' legal law systems, balance the nations' short-term interests with the community's common and long-term interests, carrying out measures and projects to narrow development gaps and raise public awareness of the community.

It is also essential to boost intra-bloc trade and investment, diversify economic, trade and investment relations with partners and uphold the central role of Asean in negotiations to solve disputes on the basis of international law, he added. (WAM)