South East Asian Headlines & Breaking News

Unity is key to facing global challenges, says ASEAN chair Indonesia

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Indonesia on Tuesday pressed for unity in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as the regional leaders met for the 43rd summit in Jakarta.

“All of us are aware of the magnitude of the current world challenges (and) the main key to facing them is unity,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popular as “Jokowi”, said as he opened the ASEAN leaders’ summit.

He said ASEAN’s direction was “clear … to become the epicenter of growth.”

Leaders of Southeast Asian nations met in the Indonesian capital on Tuesday for the annual summit of the ASEAN.

Emphasizing on hard work, he called ASEAN “a big ship” which has a big responsibility to the hundreds of millions of people “who sail together in it.”

“ASEAN agreed to not become a proxy to any power. Don’t turn our ship into a battleground for rivalries that destroy one another,” Jakarta Globe News quoted Jokowi.

“This ocean is too vast for us to sail alone. We will meet other ships, namely ASEAN’s dialogue partners. Let us work in concert to achieve a fair and mutually beneficial cooperation as we sail towards an epicentrum of growth,” he said.

However, he added: “Differences of opinion among the bloc’s members are common. … ASEAN remains united to this day.”

“Unity is harmony in diversity,” said Jokowi, adding that the ASEAN “plays a crucial role” in maintaining peace in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Leaders and representatives from ASEAN’s partner countries including China, India, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the Russian Federation, Canada and the US are also attending the summit.

Indonesia, the current chair of the 10-member regional bloc, is hosting the summit to discuss the development and strengthening of cooperation between the bloc and its partners.

Regional peace and political violence in junta-ruled Myanmar remain high on the agenda.

On Monday, the Philippines said it will advocate for a “rules-based international order” in the disputed South China Sea.

Several ASEAN members have maritime disputes with China in the minerals-rich South China Sea. Chinese Premier Li Qiang is also participating in the summit.

–  Agencies 

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