SINGAPORE - Asean military chiefs met on Thursday (March 18) to discuss regional and international security challenges and made plans to boost cooperation between their armed forces.
Representatives of all 10 Asean members attended the 18th Asean Chiefs of Defence Forces' Meeting chaired by Brunei and held via video-conferencing. Singapore was represented by Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong.
Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Thursday said the chiefs issued a joint statement to reaffirm the militaries' collective commitment and responsibility in addressing the security challenges of the region.
They also approved the Asean Militaries Two-Year Activity Workplan.
Brunei's Defence Ministry said in a statement that it tabled a working paper entitled Asean Military Exercise that aims to support Asean militaries to enhance regional security, interoperability and capacities through cooperation.
Mindef said Lt-Gen Ong expressed grave concern over the situation in Myanmar during the meeting, urging the military authorities in the country to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians.
The concern was shared by other leaders.
According to media reports, Indonesia's military chief Hadi Tjahjanto had conveyed "profound concerns" about the situation in Myanmar, and stressed that the safety and security of the people of Myanmar must be of top priority.
The commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces - who was not present but had his remarks read out during the meeting - also said the country's military is "always ready" to provide assistance and share its experience in building professional armed forces in the context of a democracy.
Myanmar's commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing attended the meeting as well.
Myanmar has been embroiled in political instability since the junta seized power and detained elected government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy party last month.
Civilian protests against the Feb 1 military coup have resulted in deadly clashes with security forces nationwide.
At the end of the event, Brunei handed the baton to Cambodia as the chairman of 19th Asean Chief of Defence Forces' Meeting next year.