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ASEAN-GCC Ministerial meeting strongly condemn Israeli raid on Freedom Flotilla

posted on 02/06/2010: 832 views

Singapore - The Second ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting in Singapore has strongly condemned Israeli raid on Freedom Flotilla and termed this an act of violence in international waters.

In a joint statement on conclusion of the meeting, the Foreign Ministers considered the recent attacks by the Israeli authorities against personnel aboard the humanitarian vessel, Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010.

The Ministers strongly deplored and condemned this Israeli raid and act of violence in international waters and expressed condolences to the victims of the raid and solidarity with the people and Government of Turkey and other countries.

The Ministers urged the immediate release of those who are still held hostage by the Israeli authorities and called for the removal of the Israeli blockade in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in particular UN Security, Council Resolution 1860.

Through the aforementioned raid and violence, Israel has once again created additional hurdles to the Middle East peace process which is currently entering a critical phase with the launching of the "proximity talks", the statement noted.

The Ministers agreed on the need for international cooperation to ensure that Israel is held accountable for its action in accordance with international law. Specifically, the Ministers urged the United Nations to discharge its responsibilities in accordance with its Charter, including a thorough investigation of the Israeli attack in order to ensure its accountability.

Meanwhile in a joint press statement, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said that they had a fruitful Second ASEAN-GCG Ministerial Meeting in Singapore from 31 May -1June 2010.

"We discussed the favourable developments and the future directions of ASEAN-GCC cooperation. We also had productive discussion and exchanged views on international issues of common concern", the statement said.

The ministers reiterated the importance of the ASEAN Charter of 2007, and the GCC Charter of 1981 and the GCC-ASEAN Joint Vision adopted in Manama in 2009, which serve as the foundation for pursuing closer and beneficial cooperation of the two regions. We expressed concern over the current global financial crisis and stressed the importance for greater cooperation in the spirit of South-South Cooperation including the WTO-Doha Round, the international financial, economic and trading organisations and regional groupings. We will continue to reject protectionism, particularly to reaffirm our commitment to refrain raising new barriers to trade and investment to mitigate the impact of the crisis and ensure sustainable recovery.

They welcomed the development of a regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific that is open, transparent and inclusive, and based on ASEAN centrality and supplementary to, and built upon the existing ASEAN mechanism. We also supported ASEAN Connectivity as well as efforts to expand the connectivity between Southeast Asia and the GCC regions, whether in the area of transport linkages or enhanced people-to-people contacts. "This enhanced connectivity should also help promote better understanding between the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East as a whole and, in this connection; we looked forward to the convening of the Third Asia-Middle East Dialogue (AMED) in Thailand in December 2010".

They also welcomed the contributions made by ASEAN and GCC in promoting peace and prosperity in the Middle East, and the efforts by the State of Qatar to help the parties in the conflict in Darfur to reach a fair and sustainable peace and affirmed the need for continued negotiations in Doha by the parties concerned to resolve the issue.

"We welcomed the ongoing accreditation process of the ambassadors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar to ASEAN and reaffirmed their commitment to accredit their respective ambassadors to ASEAN in Jakarta and the ASEAN Ambassadors to the GCC in Riyadh in order to further enhance partnership, In this regard, the Kingdom of Bahrain expressed its intention to accredit its Ambassador based In Bangkok as its Ambassador to ASEAN".

They stressed the need for greater international cooperation to address the serious challenges of climate change and the environmental deterioration that have had negative effects on socio-economic development, in particular, we encouraged developed countries to support developing countries with, adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, transfer of technology, as well as capacity enhancement to enable mitigation and adaptation efforts by developing countries through effective institutional arrangements.

"We reaffirmed and built upon our new partnership in the economic, cultural, scientific and social fields, and to promote people-to-people contacts as envisaged in our Joint Vision adopted at our First Meeting in Manama, Bahrain in June 2009. In this connection, we adopted the ASEAN-GCC Two-Year Action Plan (2010-2012), which identifies activities and measures for closer collaboration and cooperation to be jointly undertaken for the next two years, through sectoral working groups and the two Secretariats, on the areas of trade and investment, economic and developmental cooperation, education and training, culture and information, and mutual consultation in international matters. The two Secretariats will prepare regular progress reports on the implementation of the Action Plan to the Ministers for their consideration and further guidance".

"We agreed to promote greater understanding of ASEAN and GCC with a view to forging for closer economic cooperation and integration, including exploring the possibility of developing a trade and investment framework agreement. In this connection, we agreed to task the two Secretariats to convene as soon as possible a roundtable discussion among the officials concerned from both sides to discuss possible economic integration and cooperation initiatives between ASEAN and GCC and prepare the path for closer economic cooperation in order to have a better understanding of ASEAN and GCC as regional organizations, including its trade and investment regimes as well as to discuss possible areas of cooperation and mechanisms for regional engagement, We reiterated the importance of food security and tasked our relevant officials concerned and two Secretariats to explore ways and means to develop programmes/projects and joint ventures in agricultural productivity, supply, food security stockpile, agro and food industry and food standards, including halal products and halal food sciences, through greater Investment on infrastructure and logistics, research and development, and trade facilitation and promotion in food stuff", the statement added.

"We agreed to strengthen the ASEAN-GCC cooperation in the field of energy and called for the relevant sectoral working groups to meet in the near future to identify areas of cooperation".

They stressed the need to increase people-to-people contact through promotion of dialogue among civilizations and cultures, dissemination of tourism information and establishment of linkages in education. The minister believed that such contacts and dialogue would help promote better mutual understanding, enhanced trust, and greater respect for diversity, thus contributing to a culture of peace. We also attached importance to enhanced cooperation to address common challenges, including transnational crime, terrorism and public health challenges, they added.

They welcomed the GCC proposal to establish an international centre for combating terrorism, and encouraged cooperation between ASEAN and GCC in exchange of information and experiences on counter-terrorism.

"We expressed our support for enhancing the prospects for future cooperation between the two sides through the exploration of new opportunities for cooperation in areas of labour, improving preparedness for future global economic crisis, enhanced consular cooperation, electricity, water, transport, communications, planning, development, communications and information technology".

They agreed to explore the possibility to set up an ASEAN-GCC foundation and tasked the two Secretariats to submit a recommendation on this matter to the next ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting. They also agreed to convene the Third ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting in 2011 in the United Arab Emirates and thereafter to convene the ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting on an annual basis, alternately in an ASEAN and GCC country. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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