Jokowi: Asean should not become arena of destructive rivalries

JAKARTA: President Joko Widodo affirmed that no parties should make the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) an arena of destructive rivalries.

"We should place the Asean 'boat' as a place to foster cooperation in the hopes of realising prosperity, stability, and peace, not only for the region but also for the world as a whole," said the president, popularly known as Jokowi, during the opening session of the 43rd Asean Summit in Jakarta today (September 5), reported the Antara news agency.

The Indonesian president underscored that Asean leaders had agreed not to let any parties take advantage of the Southeast Asian region as their proxy field for their struggles for power and influence.

"The world's oceans are too vast to be sailed alone. In our (Asean) journey, we will encounter the 'boats' of Asean partners. Let us work hand in hand to realise equal and mutually beneficial cooperation to sail together toward an epicentrum of growth," he stated.

Indonesia is hosting the 43rd Asean Summit as the 2023 chair of the bloc while carrying the chairmanship theme of "Asean Matters: Epicentrum of Growth." This year is the fifth time Indonesia holds the chairmanship following initial terms in 1976, 1996, 2003, and 2011.

This year, Indonesia is making utmost efforts to retain Asean's position as the centre of economic, political, and socio-cultural growth while preserving the bloc's relevance as a global actor capable of facing future challenges and promoting stability and peace in the Southeast Asian region.

Heads of state and government of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam are taking part in the summit, which is the successor of the 42nd Asean Summit held in May in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara Province.

Thailand has delegated its Foreign Affairs Ministry secretary-general, Sarun Charoensuwan, to the summit, since Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his cabinet will only be sworn in today (September 5)

Meanwhile, Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao is joining the 43rd summit in the capacity of an observer.

Furthermore, the Asean chair also invited Bangladesh, as the chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), and Cook Islands, as the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

Regarding Myanmar, the Asean has not allowed any political envoys of the country to attend the summit, as an effort to push the Burmese military junta to solve the ongoing domestic crisis following its coup against the elected government. --BERNAMA

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