ASEAN Ministers to meet in HUA HIN in August


Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has commented that Southeast Asian foreign ministers have agreed to meet in Hua Hin, Thailand, in mid-August to firm up Asean’s position on the protracted South China Sea territorial disputes before meeting with China later in the month, “(The Hua Hin meeting) is to strategise and prepare for the (Asean-China ministerial meeting) in China scheduled end of August,” del Rosario said.

Del Rosario did not disclose the exact date of the Hua Hin meeting, but another source suggested that the “special Asean ministerial retreat” will be held on August 13th and 14th.

Del Rosario said the retreat in Hua Hin was amongst the issues he recently discussed with Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.  Thailand is the coordinator for Asean-China relations.

Both Ministers exchanged views on regional and international issues, including the South China Sea disputes, according to Raul Hernandez, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The maritime disputes, including how to move forward a proposed regional code of conduct aimed at reducing territorial and maritime conflicts in the South China Sea, are expected to be discussed at the China meeting.

“We need to ensure Asean centrality in talks with China. We need to have a common position especially on the South China Sea issue,” the spokesman said.

The South China Sea issue has divided ASEAN, a grouping of rich and poor countries that are prone to influence by China, a major claimant.  Of the six claimants, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are ASEAN members.  ASEAN also includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.