Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn said Cambodia welcomes the resumption of the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) negotiations as it reflects the commitment of ASEAN and China to maintain regional stability by managing differences as per international law.

Sokhonn made the remarks during the 28th ASEAN Regional Forum (AFR) on August 6, according to the ministry’s press release on August 7.

The ministry highlighted ARF’s contributions to promoting peace, security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. To maintain this progress, foreign ministers will advance the ARF through the effective implementation of the ARF Hanoi Plan of Action II 2020-2025 (HPOA II).

Sokhonn emphasised ARF’s pivotal role as a multilateral forum for consultation, confidence-building, and promoting trust in the Asia-Pacific region. It should be used to consolidate international solidarity in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ARF can also assist in the resumption of inter-Korean communication by rekindling trust and confidence between the two Koreas.

“On the South China Sea, Cambodia welcomed the resumption of the COC negotiations as a reflection of the strong will and commitment of ASEAN and China to maintain regional stability by peacefully managing differences, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.

Sokhonn emphasised the importance of enhancing regional and international solidarity and cooperation towards a collective and effective response to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting adopted a joint statement, “Promoting Youth, Peace and Security Agenda”, which aims to increase the inclusiveness of youth in the prevention and resolution of conflict, as well as in peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

The meeting also discussed ARF’s future direction and agreed to maintain ARF as a platform to promote peace, security and stability in the Asia-Pacific through dialogue and the implementation of activities that foster confidence-building and trust among participants.

The minister also emphasised the significance of the ARF in facilitating ASEAN-centric cooperation on regional political and security issues. In this regard, ARF ministers also shared their views on the value of entering the prevention diplomacy stage of the ARF process, especially in light of emerging issues and uncertainties affecting the region.