New Sec Gen of Asean, Vietnam’s Le Luong Minh takes charge
Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Luong Minh officially assumed the five-year post of Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) yesterday.
In his inaugural speech at the Transfer of Office Ceremony held at the Asean Secretariat headquarters in Jakarta, he said Asean would continue its mission to transform the 10-member bloc into a European Union-inspired community by 2015.
Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and outgoing Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan were among the diplomats present at the ceremony.
Minh said that in the process of building a community, Asean has succeeded in many respects while many challenges remain.
In the politics and security arena, progress has been made with regards to enhancing cooperation on non-traditional issues such as terrorism and transnational crime, but much remained to be achieved when it came to shaping norms of conduct, confidence building and conflict prevention.
He singled out the East Sea territorial disputes and said Asean should speed up negotiations with China and try to quickly come up with a Code of Conduct on the East Sea.
On the economic front, he said Asean should address the "enormous challenges" brought about by the establishment of a free trade area in 2010 by maximising common ground and minimising differences.
Minh went on to affirm the strong support of the Asean Secretariat towards its Member States.
"The Asean Secretariat will continue to play an active role in supporting and co-coordinating with member states to help facilitate the establishment of an Asean Community," he said.
The outgoing Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan confirmed that the time ahead was very challenging, "even more challenging" than his own tenure, because "great powers are taking a greater interest in the region".
A veteran diplomat, Minh has worked at the United Nations in various capacities for several years. He served as President of the United Nations Security Council in July 2008 and October 2009.
This is the first time a Vietnamese representative has taken on the post.