Vietnam proposes stronger ties between ASEAN, partners to handle outbreaks

Deputy Minister of Defence Sen. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh on May 15 suggested ASEAN countries enhance their connectivity with ASEAN+ nations and other partners to cope with outbreaks of disease.

Deputy Minister of Defence Sen. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh (Photo: VNA)
Deputy Minister of Defence Sen. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh (Photo: VNA)

>>> ASEAN senior defence officials discuss cooperation in online meeting

He made the proposal while chairing the teleconferenced ASEAN Defence Senior Officials’ Meeting (ADSOM), during which participants discussed the bloc’s cooperation in COVID-19 prevention and control, shared the experience of ASEAN militaries in the task, devised cooperative measures for dealing with future epidemics, exchanged viewpoints on the global and regional situation amid the coronavirus outbreak and in the post-COVID-19 period, and spoke about directions for ASEAN defence cooperation in the time ahead.

Vinh told the teleconference that he highly values the rapid and timely response from the ASEAN Centre of Military Medicine (ACMM), as it organised an online table-top exercise (TTX) on COVID-19 response that met all member states’ needs and also attracted attention from partner countries.

It is necessary to encourage ASEAN connectivity with ASEAN+ nations and other partners in the time to come, increase the sharing of military medicine experience in responding to epidemics, and consider upgrading the ACMM website to a common portal where member nations can exchange experience and good practice, he noted.

He also proposed that Brunei and Australia, which are co-chairing the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus Experts’ Working Group on Military Medicine between 2020 and 2023, turn the TTX into an annual activity carried out by the working group and the ACMM.

Vietnam is ready to host the first TTX to connect joint efforts by the two co-chairing countries and the ACMM, Vinh stated.

Officials at the meeting shared a view that the online ADSOM was a suitable occasion for member countries to share the experience of defence ministries in contributing to their respective governments’ actions against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vinh said that when the coronavirus first broke out, Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defence actively joined Government efforts to prevent and control the disease, such as using military bases as quarantine facilities, disinfecting COVID-19 clusters, developing test kits, and monitoring border areas.

The Ministry has also been actively boosting bilateral cooperation with Laos, Cambodia, China, Russia, Myanmar, and Cuba to exchange experience and assist each other in this regard, he explained.