Foreign Affairs Acting Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs and Philippine Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Leader Elizabeth P. Buensuceso led the discussion on traditional and non-traditional security issues faced by the region amidst the COVID-19 pandemic during the 33rd ASEAN-Australia Forum (AAF) via video conference on 17 March 2021.
Acknowledging Australia’s long-standing commitment to the peace and stability of the region and its support for addressing maritime security challenges, Undersecretary Buensuceso enjoined the country’s support in a number of key regional issues including Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in the ASEAN, gender equality and peace in the work plan of the ASEAN-Australia Forum, tensions in the South China Sea, terrorism, threats to cybersecurity, progress of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) negotiations, and the situation in Myanmar.
The Undersecretary reiterated the earlier statements of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., on the restoration of previously existing state of affairs, de-escalation of violence, restraint in using lethal force against unarmed civilians, and the immediate release of political detainees including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her economic advisor, Australian national Professor Sean Turnell.
During the Forum, ASEAN and Australia discussed the direction of their strategic partnership on regional and sub-regional trade agreements, education, ASEAN COVID-19 vaccination, among others, in line with Australia’s continued support to ASEAN’s key COVID-19 initiatives such as the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED) and the COVID-19 ASEAN Recovery Fund (CARF).
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