ASEAN defence ministers meet; Dialogue Partners to welcome the grouping’s security hotline

New Delhi: Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN countries held a meeting on Tuesday and agreed on informal meetings with their counterparts from eight dialogue partners, including India, this year.
Participating via video conferencing ahead of the upcoming ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus meeting, they adopted a joint declaration marking the 15th anniversary of the ADMM towards building a bloc of peace and prosperity.
They pledged to promote maritime security, safety and freedom to peacefully settle disputes in the East Sea.
They welcomed initiatives to build trust such as the ASEAN Direct Communications (ADI), the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), the Guidelines for Air Military Encounters (GAME), to enhance communications, foster mutual trust as well as mitigate tensions and risks of accidents, misunderstanding and miscalculations both in the air and at sea.
Also, it was reported during the day that defence ministers of the dialogue partner countries are likely to welcome ASEAN’s invitation to join ADI, the group’s ministerial-level hotline to help defuse regional tensions.
It is hoped that the ADI will help to boost confidence and security-building measures in a region fraught with tensions such as the South China Sea territorial disputes and the contest for influence between the United States and China.
It aims to provide secure communication by voice, fax or email, according to a concept paper that ASEAN defence ministers adopted in 2019 to expand the ADI to the eight so-called “plus countries” outside the group.
The expansion, it says, will “strengthen strategic cooperation” and provide “a platform for engagement in dialogue and enhancing transparency, regional confidence and security building measures especially at the time of pandemic.”
“The launching of this expansion, if ready, is expected during the sidelines of the ADMM Retreat later in the year,” the official said, referring to an ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Retreat scheduled for November 10 in Brunei.
ASEAN also includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and Vietnam.
In the joint declaration, ASEAN member-states vowed to promote joint work to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.