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37th ASEAN Summit kicks off virtually

Kuala Lumpur – The 37th ASEAN Summit kicked-off Thursday morning amid the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin leading the Malaysian delegation at the biannual summit virtually from here.

Also part of the Malaysian delegation are Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein as well as Senior Minister and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc presided over the opening ceremony from Hanoi and is joined online by leaders from the other ASEAN Member States.

The summit will be chaired by Xuan Phuc in his capacity as ASEAN Chair 2020 under the theme “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN.”

The opening ceremony, which started at 9.30am Malaysia Time, began with the singing of the ASEAN anthem and welcoming remarks by Vietnam President Nguyen Phu Trong.

Meanwhile, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi of Brunei praised Vietnam’s chairmanship of ASEAN this year as “exemplary” in a statement released on ASEAN website.

“In spite of having to deal with its domestic COVID-19 challenges and natural disasters, Vietnam has provided able leadership in keeping the region cohesive and responsive to these challenges, placing ASEAN Centrality and the peoples’ interest at the core,” he said. Lim also joined the summit virtually.

According to the statement, high on the 37th ASEAN Summit agenda is the leaders’ discussion and approval of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its Implementation Plan, which will serve as the whole-of-community exit strategy to recover and build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.

There will also be further discussions on the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement, which would facilitate the safe resumption of essential business travel in the region.

The ASEAN leaders will also meet with their counterparts from ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners in a series of ASEAN Plus One summits. In the line-up for today is the 23rd ASEAN-China Summit, 23rd ASEAN-Japan Summit, 21st ASEAN-South Korea Summit and the 17th ASEAN-India Summit.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN Leaders, under Vietnam’s Chairmanship, have earlier met over three cyber Summits in 2020, namely the Special ASEAN Summit and Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on 14 April, and the 36th ASEAN Summit on 26 June.

At the end of the 37th ASEAN Summit, Brunei Darussalam will assume the ASEAN Chairmanship for 2021.

ASEAN, established in 1967, comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. – Bernama

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