Southeast Asian foreign ministers opened their annual meeting Wednesday with a call from host Thailand for deeper integration to expand trade and bolster prosperity in the region amid rising global challenges.
The meeting takes place in the shadows of rising security tension on the Korean Peninsula, China’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea and the US-China trade war.
Asean, seeking to boost its own voice as a global player, also plays host to a series of foreign ministers from key strategic and dialogue partners, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told colleagues in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations they must be “more agile” amid increasing nationalism globally.
“We must recognise that looking inward and being myopic is not our option and never will be,” he said in his opening speech. “Amidst a great turmoil, we must be more outward and forward looking than ever before.” He warned the road ahead “could be treacherous” but said greater cooperation among Asean members and outside partners could help sustain long-term growth.