Asean to hold virtual summits to discuss response to Covid-19

Politics of a pandemic

HANOI • Vietnam, Asean's chair this year, will host two virtual summits today in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the special meetings will involve the 10 Asean member countries, while a separate one later will involve Asean and the Plus Three countries of China, Japan and South Korea, said Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung.

The meetings, to be held via video conferencing, were agreed on at an Asean coordinating council meeting last Thursday.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will chair the summits. China will be represented by Premier Li Keqiang.

Two joint statements were expected to be adopted at the special summits, Mr Dung said last Thursday. The statements would affirm the strong commitment and determination of Asean and the Plus Three countries to prevent and eliminate the risks of the pandemic threatening people's lives and the member states' socio-economic stability, Mr Dung said.

The coordinating council meeting last week also agreed on recommendations focusing on preventing and controlling the spread of the coronavirus, supporting Asean citizens affected by the pandemic, and mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the disease.

A statement issued yesterday by the Thai Prime Minister's Office said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will attend the meetings.

The statement noted that there are more than 10,000 confirmed coronavirus infections in Asean countries.

"Asean leaders will discuss and exchange views on the situation, public health-related measures, and collective approaches in mitigating social and economic impact in an efficient manner, both within the region and with the external partners," the statement said.

Said Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng: "The summit shows the leaders' high-level political commitment to stem the virus' spread, and it will provide mutual benefit for all sides."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2020, with the headline Asean to hold virtual summits to discuss response to Covid-19. Subscribe