Top ASEAN diplomats gather in Laos

World Today

Top ASEAN diplomats gather in Laos

Ministers from the 10 ASEAN countries gathered in Laos. This is the first major meeting since ASEAN declared itself a community last year.Topics of conversation included regional issues like the South China Sea and trans-national terrorism threats.  

CCTV’s Rian Maelzer reports from the capital, Vientiane.
Follow Rian Maelzer on Twitter @rdamael

Top ASEAN diplomats gather in Laos

Top ASEAN diplomats gather in Laos

Ministers from the 10 ASEAN countries gathered in Laos. This is the first major meeting since ASEAN declared itself a community last year. Topics of conversation included regional issues like the South China Sea and trans-national terrorism threats. CCTV's Rian Maelzer reports from the capital, Vientiane.

At the opening ceremony, Laos laid out the theme of its chairmanship: to help turn the vision of ASEAN as a dynamic community into a reality.

But despite the ASEAN Economic Community formally coming into effect at the beginning of the year, many challenges remain.

Laos’s foreign minister and prime minister avoided any direct mention of the South China Sea territorial disputes, which involve four ASEAN member countries.

But coming so soon after the so-called arbitration ruling on the South China Sea, the issue was always going to be high on the agenda.

Other challenges discussed included terrorism, human trafficking, refugees and developments in the Middle East and Korean Peninsula.

While the ASEAN ministers can take a common stand on combating threats posed by violent extremist groups like the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas from the Southern Philippines and the Islamic State militant group or ISIL, they continue to struggle to reach any kind of consensus on the South China Sea issue.

Host Laos said that the meetings in the days ahead involving China, the U.S. and others, will be a chance for the major powers to engage one another and build trust to help ensure peace and stability in the region and the world as a whole.