Chairman’s Statement of the Thirteenth ASEAN Regional Forum
Kuala Lumpur, 28 July 2006

1. The Thirteenth Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) was convened on 28 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 Meeting was attended by the Foreign Ministers of all ARF Participants, as well as the European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy. The Secretary-General of ASEAN was also in attendance. The List of Delegates appears as ANNEX 1.

3. A meeting of the defense and military officials attending the 13th ARF was also held on 27 July 2006 in Kuala Lumpur.

4. The Ministers welcomed the admission of Bangladesh as the 26th Participant of the ARF and took note of its expressed commitment to contribute to the attainment of the ARF’s goals and to abide by and subscribe to all the decisions and statements already made by the ARF.

Overview of the ARF Process

5. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the ARF as the main multilateral political and security forum in the region and agreed to its further strengthening. The Ministers reiterated their support for ASEAN as the primary driving force of the ARF and encouraged the continued cooperation and contribution of all the ARF participants in moving the ARF process forward in its evolution toward the next stage of its development.

6. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the significant progress of the ARF and the role that it has played in enhancing political and security dialogue and cooperation as well as confidence building in the Asia-Pacific region. The Ministers agreed to continue to observe in good faith the basic principles of decision-making by consensus and non-interference. In this regard, the Ministers reaffirmed that the ARF should move forward at a pace comfortable to all.

7. The Ministers held comprehensive discussions on issues of common concern and stressed the need for the ARF to focus its deliberations on regional issues, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as international issues with regional impact. The Ministers recognized that the challenges facing the Asia Pacific region are becoming more complex and interrelated and require greater regional cooperation.

Highlights of Discussions on Regional and International Security Issues

8. The Ministers expressed their condolences to the Government and people of the Republic of Indonesia for the loss of lives and property caused by the earthquake that struck Jogjakarta and Central Java, Indonesia in May 2006, as well as the tsunami that hit the Southern Coast of Java, Indonesia on 17 July 2006. The Ministers underlined the importance of ARF partners working together and of coordinating their efforts with other relevant regional and international partners, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in emergency preparedness, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction, including disaster risk reduction, through the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action in addressing disasters of all kinds.

9. The Ministers expressed their support for and were gratified with the significant progress made in the implementation of the ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action under the Vientiane Action Programme adopted at the 10th ASEAN Summit. The Ministers emphasised the need to heighten cooperation in the security sphere in efforts to preserve and further advance the region towards peace, stability, democracy, and prosperity. The Ministers also welcomed the successful convening of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 9 May 2006.
 
10. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the purposes and principles of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), which the ARF participants regard as an important code of conduct governing inter-state relations in Southeast Asia and for the promotion of cooperation, amity and friendship within Southeast Asia and between ASEAN and other ARF participants. The Ministers welcomed the accession of Australia to the TAC during the 11th ASEAN Summit on 10 December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur. The accession by Australia is further testimony of the continued relevance of the TAC in contributing to regional peace, security and stability.

11. The Ministers welcomed the decision by France to accede to the TAC. The Ministers welcomed the EU’s intention  to accede to the TAC,

12. The Ministers exchanged views on developments in the Korean Peninsula. The Ministers emphasized that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is essential in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region, and voiced support for the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue through dialogue. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the Joint Statement on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula unanimously adopted on 19 September 2005 at the Six-Party Talks in Beijing and stressed the importance of the observance and early implementation of the Joint Statement. The Ministers also called upon all parties concerned to resume the Six-Party Talks without preconditions. The Ministers welcomed the informal discussion among some ARF participants on the situation in Northeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur on 28 July 2006 and expressed their hope that this could contribute towards the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

13. Most Ministers expressed concern over the test-firing of missiles by the DPRK on 5 July 2006 and believed that such tests could have adverse repercussions on peace, stability and security in the region. The Ministers noted the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1695 on 15 July 2006 and the rejection of this resolution by the DPRK. The Ministers urged the DPRK in this regard to re-establish its moratorium on missile testing.

14. Some Ministers expressed their grave concern over the deteriorating situation and unabated violence in the Middle East, particularly the disproportionate, indiscriminate and excessive use of force in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Lebanon. These actions would gravely threaten any efforts towards reviving the Peace Process.

15. The Ministers condemned all acts of terror, violence and destruction that have resulted in injury and death of innocent civilians and the destruction of civilian property and infrastructure. The Ministers 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.

16. The Ministers took note of the various initiatives being undertaken to end the conflict. In this regard, the Ministers acknowledged the convening of the International Conference on the Situation in the Middle East in Rome on 26 July 2006.

17. Some Ministers called for a 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.

18. The Ministers stressed that a negotiated outcome was the only way to ensure long-term peace, security and stability in the region. They 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. The Ministers 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.

19. The Ministers exchanged views on the recent developments in Myanmar. The Ministers expressed concern on the pace of the national reconciliation process and hope to see tangible progress that would lead to peaceful transition to democracy in the near future. The Ministers reiterated their calls for the early release of those placed under detention and for effective dialogue with all parties concerned. The Ministers noted that this issue has been discussed extensively by the 39th AMM and in this regard, they expressed support for the constructive role taken by the Chairman of the 39th ASEAN Standing Committee and further discussed the outcome of his visit to Myanmar on 23-24 March 2006. The Ministers also noted the initiative taken by the United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, who visited Myanmar on 18-20 May 2006 and Myanmar’s readiness to receive another visit by him.

20. The Ministers recognized that Myanmar needs both time and political space to deal with its many and complex challenges. The Ministers expressed their hope that Myanmar’s efforts to deal with those challenges will progress so that Myanmar can effectively engage the international community, and in this regard the ARF would remain constructively engaged as required.

21. The Ministers congratulated H.E. José Luis Guterres, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor Leste, on his recent appointment. The Ministers took note of the recent positive developments in Timor Leste and welcomed the immediate assistance from Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Portugal to deploy defense and security forces to Timor Leste. The Ministers welcomed the appointment of the new Prime Minister and Cabinet and their desire to work expeditiously towards normalising the situation in the country.

22. The Ministers welcomed the steps taken by ASEAN and China towards the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) including the convening of the two Working Group Meetings which were held in Manila, Philippines and Hainan, China in August 2005 and February 2006 respectively. The Ministers noted the ASEAN-China SOM on the implementation of the DOC, in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 30 May 2006 to accelerate the implementation of the DOC. The Ministers expressed their hope that with the implementation of the DOC, ASEAN and China would move towards the eventual adoption of a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.

23. The Ministers were encouraged by the determination of the Iraqis in taking important steps in the political process towards reconciliation and the building of a democratic and independent future of Iraq. The Ministers welcomed the election that took place in Iraq on 15 December 2005 to elect members of the Iraqi Parliament. The Ministers welcomed the formation of a government of national unity in Iraq on 20 May 2006.

24. The Ministers expressed the hope that the positive developments in the political process will lead to an easing of the hardship faced by ordinary Iraqis. In this regard, the Ministers expressed concern over the security condition in Iraq, and condemned the continued attacks on civilians and places of worship. The Ministers urged the Iraqi authorities and others to do all they could with the aim of improving the security situation in Iraq. The Ministers welcomed the 25th June 2006 Iraqi National Reconciliation Plan announced by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and urged all Iraqis to work together to resolve political differences through peaceful democratic means.
 
25. The Ministers strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on 11 July 2006 that caused tragic loss of innocent life and damage to property, and expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims of the attack, their families and friends. The Ministers reaffirmed that terrorism, irrespective of its origins, motivations or objectives, constitutes a threat to all peoples and countries, and the common interest of the international community in ensuring peace, stability, security and economic prosperity.

26. The Ministers also reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed that terrorism should not be associated with any particular religion or ethnic group. Some Ministers emphasized the need to address the root causes of terrorism. The Ministers expressed support and further called for continued international efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden the understanding among civilisations to prevent the indiscriminate targeting of different religions and cultures. In this regard, the Ministers took note of discussions during the 4th ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (ISM on CTTC) in Beijing on 26-28 April 2006. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to prevent, suppress and eliminate international terrorism consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and other universally recognized international law.

27. The Ministers welcomed the signing of the ASEAN-Canada Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism during the 13th ARF on 28 July 2006 in Kuala Lumpur and the planned implementation of the activities identified therein.

28. The Ministers also expressed support and called for continued cooperation between the regional centres on counter-terrorism such as the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) in Kuala Lumpur, the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, and the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) in Semarang, Indonesia. 

29. The Ministers recognized that the illegal use of small arms and light weapons still constitute a serious threat to human security in every part of the world. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the ARF’s strong commitment to work toward the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as United Nations resolution 60/81. In this regard, the Ministers emphasized the importance of the recommendations made by the ARF CBM Seminar on Small Arms and Light Weapons in Phnom Penh on 2-4 November 2005.

30. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of strengthening controls of the transfer of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), to help prevent these weapons being acquired or used by terrorist or other non-state groups. The Ministers noted that the proliferation of these weapons to non-state groups posed a threat to international civil aviation and to all countries in the region.

31. The Ministers welcomed the ARF’s continuing focus on the issue of Maritime Security and reaffirmed the importance of addressing this issue within a cooperative framework that respects the rights of littoral states and the legitimate concerns of user states. The Ministers also welcomed the Meeting in Batam, Indonesia from 1-2 August 2005 where the Foreign Ministers of the littoral states of the Straits of Malacca reiterated the fundamental principles in the management of the Straits of Malacca aimed at ensuring the safety of navigation, environmental protection and maritime security, while maintaining the balance between the sovereign rights of littoral states and the legitimate interests of the international community. The Ministers further welcomed the concurrent meeting of the Chiefs of Defense Forces of the three littoral states and Thailand from 1-2 August 2005 in Kuala Lumpur on enhancing maritime security cooperation among the armed forces of the four countries. The Ministers also welcomed the Jakarta Meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore that was hosted by Indonesia and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 7-8 September 2005 on enhancing safety, security, and environmental protection.

32. The Ministers stated that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems, including potentially to terrorists, remained a serious security challenge. The Ministers urged all States to become parties to the two most recent universal instruments to combat nuclear terrorism; namely, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 April 2005, and the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, adopted on 8 July 2005 in Vienna. The Ministers welcomed the adoption of UNSC resolution 1673 in which the Security Council reiterated the requirements of UNSC resolution 1540, thereby reaffirming the international community’s determination to prevent the proliferation of WMD, including in particular to non-state actors. In this respect, they expressed their support for the efforts of the 1540 Committee and called upon all States to ensure effective and full implementation of the Resolution.

33. The Ministers of the States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), reaffirming the validity of the Treaty as a cornerstone of global stability and security, expressed the need for undertaking further efforts to strengthen the NPT, bearing in mind the discussions at the 2005 Review Conference and agreed to make further efforts to strengthen compliance with and enforcement of all provisions of the Treaty. The Ministers reiterated their continued support for the important role of the NPT and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in preventing nuclear proliferation and promoting nuclear disarmament as well as peaceful use of nuclear energy.

34. The Ministers called for the maintenance of existing moratoria on nuclear testing and on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes. They reaffirmed their support for the concept of internationally recognized nuclear-weapons-free zones (NWFZs) established on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States in the regions concerned and emphasized the contribution of such zones to enhancing global and regional peace and security. The Ministers also further reaffirmed the importance of continued consultation on the Protocol of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty between the nuclear weapon states and the parties to the Treaty.

35. The Ministers agreed that avian and pandemic influenza continues to pose a significant potential threat to countries in the region. The Ministers recognized the importance of working with existing multilateral organizations to ensure that any ARF initiatives complement rather than duplicate existing initiatives. The Ministers agreed that it was important that states are committed to transparency in the reporting of influenza cases in humans and in animals, prompt sharing of epidemiological data with the WHO, capacity building to prevent and contain emerging epidemics, and early intervention in response to potential outbreaks. 

Review of Activities of the Current Inter-Sessional Year (July 2005-July 2006)

36. The Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the success of Track l and Track II activities that have taken place during the current inter-sessional year (July 2005-July 2006). They commended the work of the ARF Inter-sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures & Preventive Diplomacy (ISG on CBMs & PD), co-chaired by the Philippines and the United States, and held in Honolulu, USA, on 26-28 October 2005 and in Manila, Philippines, on 1-3 March 2006. The Ministers noted the summary report of the co-chairs and endorsed their recommendations. The Co-Chairs’ Reports appears as ANNEX 2.

37. The Ministers welcomed the contributions made by defense officials in the ARF process. In this regard, the Ministers were pleased with the outcome of the Third ASEAN Regional Forum Security Policy Conference (ASPC) hosted by Malaysia in Karambunai, Sabah on 18 May 2006. They noted with satisfaction that the high-level interaction among the ARF defense policy officials had contributed further to building confidence and fostering mutual understanding, thus contributing to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

38. The Ministers welcomed the outcome of the 5th ARF Inter-sessional Meeting on Disaster relief (ISM on DR) which was held in Bandung, Indonesia from 30 November to 2 December 2005, and was co-chaired by Indonesia and China. The Co-Chairs’ Report appears as ANNEX 3. The Ministers noted that Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United States, and China have volunteered to serve as shepherds to coordinate interim efforts to further the work of the ARF in disaster relief. The Ministers also adopted the ARF Statement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response which appears as ANNEX 4.

39. The Ministers noted the report of Brunei Darussalam and China as Co-Chairs of the Fourth Inter-sessional Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (ISM on CTTC), which was held in Beijing, on 26-28 April 2006, and endorsed its recommendations. The Co-Chairs Report appears as ANNEX 5.

40. The Ministers adopted the ARF Statement on Cooperation in Fighting Cyber Attack and Terrorist Misuse of Cyber Space and the ARF Statement on Promoting a People-Centered Approach to Counter-Terrorism which expressed the ARF participants’ determination to enhance cooperation in the fight against international terrorism. The statements appear as ANNEX 6 and ANNEX 7 respectively.

41. The Ministers noted the following workshops and seminars, which were completed in the inter-sessional year 2005/2006:

  • Workshop on Civil-Military Operations, Manila, the Philippines, 11-14 September 2005;
  • Seminar on Cyber Terrorism, Cebu, the Philippines, 3-5 October 2005;
  • Seminar on Missile Defense, Bangkok, Thailand, 6-7 October 2005;
  • 9th ARF Heads of Defense Universities/Colleges/Institutions, Ha Noi, Viet Nam;
  • Workshop on Training for the Cooperative Maritime Security, Kochi, India, 26-28 October 2005;
  • Workshop on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2-4 November 2005;
  • Export Licensing Experts’ Meeting, Singapore, 17-18 November 2005;
  • Workshop on Capacity Building of Maritime Security, Tokyo, Japan, 19-20 December 2005;
  • Seminar on Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Singapore, 27-29 March 2006

Programme of Work for the Next Inter-sessional Year

42. The Ministers agreed that the ISG on CBMs & PD continue its work and welcomed the offer by Indonesia and the European Union to co-chair the ISG on CBMs & PD in the next inter-sessional year. The Ministers also noted that the first ISG on CBMs and PD will be held on 1 -3 November 2006 in Batam, Indonesia and the second meeting will be held in the first quarter of 2007 in Finland.

43. The Ministers acknowledged the importance of the continuation of the ISM on DR and agreed that the ISM on DR should continue its work in finding ways to establish a resilient regional disaster preparedness and emergency management. The Ministers also noted that Indonesia and the People’s Republic of China will Co-Chair the Sixth ISM or DR in the next inter-sessional year, which will be held in Qingdao, China on 18-20 September 2006.

44. The Ministers agreed that the ISM CTTC should continue its work to forge a more strengthened cooperation in fighting against terrorism and transnational crime. The Ministers welcomed the offer by Singapore and Japan to Co-Chair the Fifth ISM on CTTC in 2007 in Tokyo, Japan.

45. The Ministers reaffirmed the procedure that all proposed ARF activities should first be discussed at the ISG/ISM level and agreed at ARF-SOM.  The Ministers approved the work program for the next inter-sessional year (July 2006–July 2007) as in ANNEX 8.

Future Direction of the ARF Process

46. The Ministers agreed to continue the implementation of the Nine Recommendations of the Stocktaking of the ARF process, which was adopted in Brunei Darussalam on 31 July 2000. The Ministers agreed to extend further cooperation and support for the ARF Chair in carrying out the mandates outlined in the paper on the Enhanced Role of the ARF Chair. The Ministers looked forward to the development of standard operating procedures for the ARF Chair to perform its enhanced role. In this regard, the Philippines will continue consultations on the Terms of Reference of Friends of the ARF Chair. The Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the open dialogue regarding the progress of the ARF process and committed to further advancing the ARF process towards the preventive diplomacy stage and beyond.

47. The Ministers welcomed the ARF’s progress towards Preventive Diplomacy (PD). The Ministers recalled the importance of the adopted Concept and Principles of Preventive Diplomacy in guiding the ARF in the development of Preventive Diplomacy and looked forward to the development of concrete measures in PD. The Ministers also welcomed the convening of the First ARF Experts and Eminent Persons (EEP) Meeting which was co-chaired by Malaysia and the Republic of Korea on 28-30 June 2006 in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. The Ministers were briefed by the Malaysian Co-Chair on the outcome of this Meeting. The Ministers noted the recommendations of the EEPs regarding the future course of the ARF and the role of the EEPs as contained in the Co-Chairs Summary Report which appears as ANNEX 9. The Ministers also requested the ARF SOM to consider the recommendations and submit its assessment of their practicability to ARF Ministers at their next meeting.

48. The Ministers agreed on the continued publication of the ARF Annual Security Outlook (ASO) to promote transparency as well as confidence building among ARF participants and welcomed the seventh volume of the ASO.

49. The Ministers emphasized the need to continue strengthening ties with other regional and international security organizations as well as linkages between Track I and Track II. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed Thailand’s Concept Paper on “Enhancing Ties between Track I and Track II in the ARF, and between the ARF and Other Regional and International Security Organisations” as approved by SOM ARF which appears as ANNEX 10, and entrusted the relevant ARF bodies to proceed in accordance with the guidelines and format contained therein.
 
50. The Ministers commended the ARF Unit in assisting the ARF Chair and in developing the ARF’s institutional memory, including through the regularly updated Matrix of ARF Decisions and their Status, which is made available on the ARFNet, and the development of the ARF Internet homepage and virtual communications network at http://www.aseanregionalforum.org/.  The Ministers acknowledged the assistance that some ARF participants were extending to the ARF Unit and encouraged others to do the same.

51. The Ministers welcomed the progress of the ARF Fund, for the purpose of implementing projects, activities, and decisions of the ARF, particularly the adoption of the standard format for the ARF Fund Project Brief which appears as ANNEX 11.

52. The Ministers noted that applications to participate in the ARF would be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the established criteria. In this connection, they welcomed and agreed to ASEAN’s consensus on the admission of Sri Lanka as the 27th participant in the ARF, which would be officiated during the 14th ARF.

53. The Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the open dialogue regarding the progress of the ARF process and committed to further advancing the ARF process towards the preventive diplomacy stage and beyond, on the basis of consensus and at a pace comfortable to all, while continuing to build mutual confidence and trust among its participants. ‘

 

28 July 2006
Kuala Lumpur