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PHL prepares to welcome 9 other ASEAN leaders in the 30th ASEAN Summit

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — The government is busy preparing for the 30th ASEAN Summit and related meetings in the Philippines from April 26 to 29.

The other nine leaders from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will attend this event.

Chief of Presidential Protocol and Director General for operations ASEAN NOC Ambassador Marciano Paynor said, “On 29th April which is the actual summit, we will have all 10 leaders meeting up at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and we’ll have a retreat at the Coconut Palace. They will return to PICC for the rest of the meetings. And this will be culminated by a gala dinner hosted by the President.”

Coinciding with the ASEAN Summit are the state visits of Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to the country.

Ambassador Paynor said the government’s preparation for ASEAN Summit 2017 is much shorter than the APEC Summit in 2015.

Factors which may have affected this are the turnover of the administration and the complicated process under the procurement laws.

However, the official assures that they are beefing up the security measures.

Ambassador Paynor reasoned, “Because of this most recent incident, we are beefing up our security elements.”

President Duterte will be busy next week since he will be hosting for the first time an international engagement.

The event is significant since aside from the Philippines chairmanship, ASEAN will also be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Amb. Paynor added, “Now that he is hosting, he did say, ‘Oh, hindi lang pala ganoon kadali.’ [ Oh, it’s was really that easy.] So, we are running him through what he needs to do from 10 — in fact, from 9:30 in the morning all the way up to the finish the following day in Davao.”

Meanwhile, Ambassador Paynor confirmed that United States President Donald Trump will be visiting the Philippines in November 2017 for the ASEAN meeting.

“When President Duterte called him up to congratulate him [Trump], had already indicated that he was coming in November. So, at least verbally, he said he is coming,” the official said. — Rosalie Coz, UNTV News & Rescue

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ASEAN hopes to expedite code of conduct on South China Sea: Singapore

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

FILE PHOTO – Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen speaks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue Regional Security Summit in Manama, Bahrain December 10, 2016. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The Association of South East Asian Nations is hoping to expedite negotiations on a code of conduct with China for the South China Sea but it is not realistic to expect an agreement within a year, Singapore’s defense minister said on Wednesday.

China and the 10-member ASEAN bloc adopted a negotiating framework on the code for the disputed and busy waterway, largely controlled by China but also claimed by some ASEAN states, in August and have begun talks.

“We hope it will be expedited but it’s a very, very complex issue,” Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters after a gathering of ASEAN defense chiefs.

“It’s a century’s old dispute. Expecting (the code) in one year is just unrealistic,” he said.

ASEAN and China have hailed the conclusion of the negotiating framework as a sign of progress.

However, the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding raised doubts about the effectiveness of the pact.

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of ASEAN, some of whom have sparred for years over what they see as China’s disregard for their sovereign rights and its blocking of fishermen and energy exploration efforts.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said later on Wednesday Beijing has worked with ASEAN countries for a code of conduct that was satisfactory to all states in the region.

Still, China has been rapidly increasingly its military deployment in the South China Sea and its air force said in a statement on Wednesday that Chinese Su-35 fighter jets had recently taken part in a combat patrol over the South China Sea.

It did not say when the patrol happened or over which part of the South China Sea.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday some of his ASEAN colleagues had expressed concern about activities by China in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, including land reclamations.

Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim some or all of the South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs and islands. Taiwan also claims it.

Singapore has taken over the role of the chairman of ASEAN for 2018 and hosted meetings of its foreign and defense ministers this week.

Reporting by Fathin Ungku; additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd in Beijing; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel

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Southeast Asian foreign ministers convene for regional meeting

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

With Singapore setting resilience and innovation as the main themes for ASEAN this year, the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers started the meeting without the traditional interlocked handshake, opting instead for a hand wave.

The meeting’s objective was for the countries to agree on a common mechanism to combat extremist threats, cyber-security and form a regional extradition treaty.

“The themes of resilience and innovation will we believe strengthen ASEAN’s effort across the three community pillars which we already have and we need to enhance our collective resilience against common threats, trans-boundary threats like terrorism, transnational crime, cyber-crime,” Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said.

Singapore, meanwhile, as the chair, is proposing an “ASEAN Smart Cities Network” aimed at improving the urban living environment and enhancing business opportunities for Southeast Asia’s people. It also aims to improve small and medium businesses which is among the priority agenda.

“We want to establish an ASEAN Smart Cities Network in order to expand opportunities for our people and our small and medium local enterprises in the midst of a digital revolution,” Balakrishnan said.

The proposal is expected to be adopted by ASEAN leaders in April and official launch would be in November, after which each member city would undertake specific projects and action lines in its desired areas of focus from 2018 to 2025.

ASEAN leaders are also expected to discuss this year hot topics such as the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, tensions in the Korean Peninsula, counter-terrorism and negotiations between ASEAN and China over a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which is to begin next month. – Annie Mancilla | UNTV News & Rescue

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U.S. to modernize nuclear capabilities with an eye on Russia

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, February 5th, 2018

Concerned about Russia’s growing tactical nuclear weapons, the United States will modernize its nuclear ‘triad’ – land, sea, air – capabilities, top Pentagon, and state department officials said on Friday.

Some critics said the decision could increase the risk of miscalculation between the two countries.

“We call on all states possessing nuclear weapons to declare or to maintain a moratorium on nuclear testing. Going forward, we are also eager to increase transparency and predictability to avoid miscalculation among nuclear weapons states and other possessor states. That includes re-establishing the conditions necessary for greater trust with Russia, and improved transparency with China as it expands and modernizes its nuclear forces,” said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon.

It represents the latest sign of hardening resolve by President Donald Trump’s administration to address challenges from Russia, at the same time he is pushing for improved ties with Moscow to rein in a nuclear North Korea.

The focus on Russia is in line with the Pentagon shifting priorities from the fight against Islamist militants to “great power competition” with Moscow and Beijing.

The rationale for building up new nuclear capabilities, U.S. officials said, is that Russia currently perceives the United States’ nuclear posture and capabilities as inadequate.

“We must keep America’s deterrent credible by making it modern. The 2018 NPR [Nuclear Posture Review] calls for modernizing the nuclear triad and command and control system, which is necessary, affordable, and long overdue. Our nuclear triad has kept us safe for over 70 years. We cannot afford to let it become obsolete,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

The Pentagon’s NPR, which is largely in line with the previous review in 2010, said the U.S. will modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads with low-yield options. — Reuters

 

 

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