ASEAN military chiefs reaffirm peace in South China Sea
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero and nine heads of defense forces in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reaffirmed the “importance of maintaining and promoting peace and security in the South China Sea, the AFP said on Sunday.
In a joint statement issued after the ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM) held March 8 Singapore, all top military heads recognized the need for cautious actions in the disputed region.
“Reaffirming the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea, as well as the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may complicate the situation,” the statement said.
It also added the importance of pursuing a peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.
Now on its 15th staging, this forum is the biggest avenue for interaction among heads of militaries from ASEAN member states where regional issues such as terrorism, sea disputes, and disaster preparedness and response, among others are discussed.
In terms of humanitarian assistance and disaster response, the military chiefs agreed to work on the “operationalization of mechanisms to enhance ASEAN responses to natural disasters, such as the ASEAN Military Ready Group (AMRG) based on principles of sovereignty and consensus-based decision-making.”
The group aims to prepare an ASEAN quick response team for immediate coordinated deployment to ASEAN countries and areas affected by disasters. DMS