His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the 5th East Asia Summit
[October 30, 2010; Hanoi, Vietnam]
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My colleagues in ASEAN and partners in the East Asia Summit:
It is an honor to meet with you in this 5th East Asia Summit. The East Asia Summit has been an important venue for discussing issues related to our emerging regional architecture and I’m happy to note that as I address you for the first time as president of the Philippines, the Summit has already seen progress in the promotion of peace, stability, economic prosperity and integration by pursuing projects in our five priority areas.
It is timely that the first EAS I attend coincides with the 5th anniversary of the EAS. The EAS is an important element in the regional architecture and it is fitting that this anniversary coincides with an invitation to Russia and the United States to join our forum. With ASEAN centrality as the pillar for EAS, the inclusion of these two great powers will enhance our position in global affairs and provide an added platform from which we can contribute to the peaceful resolution of issues around the region.
The ability of the EAS to contribute positively to resolving regional issues would be enhanced by the adoption of a framework for increased economic cooperation among concerned member states. There are currently two modes under consideration, namely the Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia and the East Asia Free Trade Agreement. Perhaps it is worth considering the idea, as proposed by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, that both frameworks can converge and are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
On another topic, the region has experienced a number of natural disasters in recent days. The storm that hit the Philippines and the natural calamities that beset Indonesia underscore the need to cooperate and share insights on disaster management. As chair of ASEAN’s Committee on Disaster Management, I invite our dialogue partners to consider supporting one or more of the flagship projects of the Work Program to implement the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response. In particular, a Satellite-Based Disaster Monitoring System for typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural calamities.
As we welcome two new members, let us manage the EAS process through agenda-setting and by building on the good work we have done in the priority areas of cooperation. We must use our community building goals as the basis for engaging our new partners in the EAS.
I look forward to a candid and dynamic exchange of ideas with you all.