GCC, ASEAN set out vision of cooperation


Yong said that the two organizations share similar views on a host of regional and international issues. Also present at the press conference were Thai Charge d’Affaires Suvat Chirapant, who heads the ASEAN Riyadh Committee, and Rajenthran Arumugam, ASEAN’s senior relations officer. The local ASEAN chapter, composed of ambassadors of Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, has a mandate to promote the group’s interests in the region.

A proposal to initiate dialogue between the two blocs was endorsed by the GCC foreign ministers and their ASEAN counterparts, who held their annual meeting on the fringes of 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York late last year.

A number of issues of mutual concern, including the situations in Iraq and Palestine, the impact of the Israeli war on Lebanon, combating terrorism in addition to economic, commercial and investment fields, were discussed.

Asked about any plan to sign a formal agreement to ensure closer GCC-ASEAN contacts, Yong said, “We sought to promote secretariat-to-secretariat level cooperation. The ASEAN is working with the GCC to develop modalities of cooperation in different sectors.”

He said that the draft charter would be submitted to leaders of the 10-member ASEAN for approval at their 13th summit slated for November in Singapore. “The construction and approval of the charter will be a milestone in ASEAN’s history, helping change the association into a more closely connected, effective and dynamic community,” he said.

ASEAN is home to 500 million people with a combined gross domestic product of $ 600 billion. Over the past few years member countries in the bloc have made considerable gains in fields, such as high economic growth, stability and poverty alleviation.

Member states have enjoyed substantial trade and investment flows from significant liberalization measures. ASEAN seeks, by the year 2020, to establish a peaceful and stable Southeast Asia where each nation is at peace with itself.

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