1. The Seventh ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers Meeting was held on 26 July 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia.
2. The Ministers expressed their concern over the latest developments in the Korean Peninsula which could affect peace and stability in the region, including the test-firing by DPRK of its Taepodong-2 missiles on 5 July 2006. They noted the unanimous adoption of the UNSC resolution 1695. They also expressed their desire for the realization of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and their continued support for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. They also expressed their hope that the on-going inter-Korean exchanges would continue to provide conditions which would be conducive to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula. They also believed that the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) can contribute to promoting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and expressed the hope that members of the Six-Party Talks can utilise their presence during the ARF to promote the resumption of the Talks.
3. The Ministers were gravely concerned over the deteriorating situation and the escalation of violence in the Middle East, particularly the disproportionate, indiscriminate and excessive use of force by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Lebanon, triggered by the capture of the two Israeli soldiers. It will gravely threaten any efforts towards reviving the Peace Process in the foreseeable future.
4. The Ministers were deeply shocked and distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by the Israeli Defence Forces of the United Nations Observer post in southern Lebanon on 25 July 2006, which killed four United Nations military observers.
5. The Ministers condemned this coordinated attack and extended their deepest condolences to the families of those victims and expressed their sympathies to the Governments of Austria, Canada, China and Finland.
6. The Ministers called on the Government of Israel to conduct a full investigation into this very disturbing incident and demand that any further attack on the United Nations positions and personnel must stop. The Ministers further encouraged the United Nations to also conduct its own investigation.
7. They condemned all acts of terror, violence and destruction. They also condemned the attacks that have resulted in injury and death of innocent civilians and the destruction of civilian property and infrastructure. They further condemned the abduction and detention of Cabinet Ministers, government officials, and other individuals and we call for their immediate and unconditional release.
8. They urged all parties to exercise utmost restraint, in particular to avoid additional casualties among innocent civilians and damage to civilian property and infrastructure and to refrain from acts that could further exacerbate the situation.
9. They called for an immediate ceasefire and urged the international community and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to get all parties in the conflicts to adhere to the ceasefire and ultimately to work towards a just, durable and comprehensive peace in the region.
10. The Ministers reaffirmed the call for the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon as stipulated in UNSC Resolutions 1664 and 1680.
11. They also urged Israel and Palestine to return to the peace process and implementation of the Quartet Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as outlined in UNSC Resolution 1515.
12. They welcomed all efforts taken to address the situation, including the visits to the region by the Special Advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Middle East and the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as the efforts undertaken by the Foreign Minister of France in that country’s capacity as current President of the United Nations Security Council. They viewed the visit by the U.S. Secretary of State to the region and Italy’s hosting of the international conference today, 26 July 2006 as encouraging steps and hope that these would bring about the immediate cessation of hostilities, opening the way for the unimpeded flow of humanitarian relief and assistance to the civilians affected by the conflict, the early return of displaced persons and providing the conditions for a durable and lasting solution to the problems in the region. They also emphasised the need for speedy restoration of essential infrastructure facilities in Palestine and Lebanon to avoid further deterioration of humanitarian condition of the Palestine and Lebanese people.
13. The Ministers reiterated their consistent position that the next United Nations Secretary-General shall be selected from an Asian member state of the United Nations.
14. The Ministers were glad to note the decision by the French Government to accede to the TAC. In this regard, they hoped that France could accede to the Treaty at the earliest opportunity.
15. The Ministers welcomed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the ASEAN Plus Three Summit signed by the Leaders at the Ninth ASEAN Plus Three Summit held in Kuala Lumpur on 12 December 2005 and lauded it as an important document which further strengthens and sets forth the future direction of the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation.
16. The Ministers expressed continued commitment to the ASEAN Plus Three process and reaffirmed the decisions of the Eight ASEAN Plus Three Summit, held on 29 November 2004 to issue a Second Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation and Work Plan in 2007. They noted that the ASEAN Plus Three Directors-General had begun the groundwork for the preparation of the Second Joint Statement during their Seventh Meeting held on 7-8 June 2006 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. They further noted that the Philippines, as the incoming Chair of the 40th ASEAN Standing Committee and Country Coordinator for the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, will work together with Singapore, as the Chair of the 41st ASEAN Standing Committee and Country Coordinator for the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation in 2007, in preparing the Second Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation and Work Plan.
17. The Ministers welcomed the stocktaking exercise being undertaken on the progress of the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation since 1997, which would take into account recommendations made by the various ASEAN Plus Three mechanisms, including those from the Network of East Asia Think-Tanks (NEAT) and East Asia Forum (EAF).
18. The Ministers also welcomed the progress in the implementation of the short-term, medium and long-term measures of the East Asia Study Group (EASG), which was adopted by the ASEAN Plus Three Summit in 2002. They agreed that the EASG measures were useful in their contribution towards East Asian community building and, where appropriate, should be absorbed into the Work Plan to be issued in 2007.
19. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress achieved in ASEAN Plus Three cooperation over the past 9 years, which covers 16 sectors and has 48 mechanisms to facilitate and implement the cooperation. In addition, the Ministers welcomed the establishment of cooperation in four new sectors under the ASEAN Plus Three framework, which are cooperation in rural development and poverty eradication, women issues, disaster risk management and emergency response, and minerals.
20. The Ministers were encouraged by the progress made in ASEAN Plus Three Finance Cooperation. They noted that the regional self-help and support mechanism of the Chiang Mai Initiative has made substantial progress and the Bilateral Swap Arrangements has amounted to over US$ 75 billion. Notable progress has also been achieved in the Asian Bond Markets Initiative (ABMI), with a number of local currency bonds issued by international and foreign institutions.
21. The Ministers welcomed the Second Meeting of the ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers, which was held on 22 June 2006 in Yangon, Myanmar, where the strategic framework for Phase 2 of the ASEAN Plus Three Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) Programme was adopted. The Ministers expressed hope that the programme would be able to achieve its goal to reduce the economic, social and medical burdens that result from emerging and resurging infectious diseases that threaten the region.
22. The Ministers also welcomed the convening of the East Asia Cultural Week. It would be organized by Thailand and the Republic of Korea separately, in 2007 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation. They noted that the ASEAN Plus Three countries would also participate in these events.
23. The Ministers reaffirmed the urgent need to address energy security issues. With the increase in oil prices, the Ministers stressed the need to search for alternative sources of energy. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the convening of the ASEAN Plus Three Energy Ministers Meeting, scheduled on 27 July 2006 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, which would follow up on the decisions made at the 9th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, held on 12 December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur. The Ministers also recommended that the 10th ASEAN Plus Three Summit and 2nd East Asia Summit in Cebu, Philippines on 12 and 13 December 2006 would discuss cooperation in bio-fuel and energy security.
24. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the work undertaken by the ASEAN Plus Three Unit in the ASEAN Secretariat in coordinating and implementing ASEAN Plus Three cooperation.
25. The Ministers welcomed the convening of the East Asia Summit as a forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political and economic issues of common interest with the aim of promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity in East Asia. In this respect, they recognized that the East Asia Summit could make a significant contribution to the achievement of the long-term goal of establishing an East Asian community.
26. The ASEAN Ministers expressed their appreciation for the continued support and commitment of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea for ASEAN’s efforts at community building and integration including their contribution to the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP) and Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI).
27. The Ministers discussed the preparations for the Tenth ASEAN Plus Three Summit and the Second East Asia Summit, which will be held on 11 and 13 of December 2006 respectively in Cebu, the Philippines.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia
26 July 2006