A goodwill delegation led by President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein and wife Daw Khin Khin Win left Nay Pyi Taw for Bandar Seri Begawan by air on 8 October 2013 to attend the 23rd ASEAN Summit, which was held in Bandar Seri Begawan of Brunei Darussalam. The President and wife were accompanied by Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin and wife, Union Minister U Soe Thane, Union Minister Dr. Kan Zaw, Deputy Ministers U Tin Oo Lwin, U Ye Htut, Dr. Daw Thein Thein Htay, Daw Sanda Khin and officials. The President and the party arrived Bandar Seri Begawan in the afternoon of the same day. They were welcomed by Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office Haji Abdul Mumin, the Brunei Ambassador to Myanmar, Myanmar Ambassador to Brunei Daw Yin Yin Myint and embassy staff and families.

President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein attended the 23rd ASEAN Summit, held in Bandar Seri Begawan from October 9 to 10, 2013. At the Summit, he delivered a speech. In his speech, President U Thein Sein called on the ASEAN Member States to openly review the efforts of ASEAN so that it can achieve its targets by 2015. He also urged ASEAN Member States to step up efforts for encouraging small and medium businesses to ensure the 21st economic development, for narrowing the gap between member states, for ASEAN Integration and sustainable development while considering the ASEAN Vision beyond 2015. He also urged the ASEAN Member States to prioritize to tackle the issue of increasing population of senior citizens, to strengthen the disaster preparedness and to ensure equitable intra- ASEAN approaches regarding the expansion of relations with ASEAN partner countries. ASEAN should maintain its leadership role, reliability and flexibility to attract partners and to maintain its strategic position, he said. Furthermore, ASEAN should make efforts for getting a single vision regarding the regional and international issues, he added. He suggested ASEAN member countries to choose ways which can be considered equal and fair among member countries when ASEAN expands its relations with newly emerged groups such as BRICS and G-20.

The President touched upon the political, economic and social reforms in Myanmar, which have given Myanmar more opportunities in strengthening the integration with ASEAN member states in the community. However, Myanmar’s reforms process has not yet been over and the country has challenges though it has witnessed progress, he said. He pledged that Myanmar will overcome the challenges with the support of fellow ASEAN Member States and dialogue partners.

He vowed to take the role of the 2014 ASEAN chairmanship for the first time, pledging that Myanmar will work together with ASEAN member countries for gaining the momentum of ASEAN achievements and fulfilling the 2015 ASEAN Community targets.

16th ASEAN- Japan Summit

While in Bandar Seri Begawan, President U Thein Sein attended the 16th ASEAN- Japan Summit held at International Convention Centre on 9 October 2013. On this occasion, President U Thein Sein, in his speech, said that significant achievement has been made since 1973 when the ASEAN-Japan relations were established. He added that cooperation between ASEAN and Japan in political, security, economic and socio-cultural sectors is making progress. He noted that the year 2013 is the 40th anniversary establishment of ASEAN-Japan relations. The five-point proposal by Mr. Shinzo Abe in January for more cooperation with ASEAN is welcome.

He said that Myanmar attached great importance to ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan and was desirous of extending communication channels between the Thilawa Special Economic Zone and the Dawei Special Economic Zone, to be implemented by Myanmar. He said that the effort of ASEAN-Japan Centre for the ASEAN Japan’s trade promotion was welcome. He was hopeful that there would be more ASEAN Japan cooperation in future.

The 16th ASEAN- Korean Summit

Next, the 16th ASEAN- Korean Summit followed with the attendance of President U Thein Sein, heads of ASEAN State- Government and President of Republic of Korea Mrs. Park Guan-hye. President U Thein Sein addressing the summit said that the ASEAN and Korea established a dialogue partnership since 1989, and it has now reached to the level of the ASEAN-Korean Peace and Prosperity Strategic Partnership. He concluded that Myanmar fully supported the Korean efforts to turn Korean peninsula into a region free from nuclear for ensuring peace, security and stability in the Korean peninsula.

The 16th ASEAN-China Summit

The 16th ASEAN-China Summit took place in the afternoon and President U Thein Sein in his address said that the year 2013 is the 10th anniversary establishment of the ASEAN-China Strategic Relations and efforts are being made for more cooperation in future. The ASEAN -China close cooperation will contribute much to regional and international peace and prosperity. He thanked China for its support for Myanmar’s reform process and pledged that he will try his best for further cementing ASEAN-China strategic relations when he takes ASEAN Chairmanship.

The First ASEAN-U.S. Summit

In the evening, the first ASEAN-U.S. Summit was held. On the occasion, President U Thein Sein made a speech, saying that he extended a warm welcome to U.S. Secretary of State Mr. John Carry and delegates, and commenting significant progress made in the ASEAN-U.S. relations with the holding of the first ASEAN-U.S. Summit. He added that all ASEAN nations attached great importance to the ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Partner relations and cooperation. He welcomed the initiatives by the U.S. in formulating economic relations, Asia-Pacific strategic relations and Asia-Pacific Sustainable Energy Partnership.

The President said that he was delighted with improved Myanmar-U.S. relations and expressed his hope that better relations between the Myanmar and U.S. will further strengthen the ASEAN-U.S. relations already in place. In the evening, the President and wife attended a dinner hosted by the King of Brunei Darussalam in honour of heads of State/ Government who attended the 23th ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

The 16th ASEAN plus Three Summit

President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein attended the 16th ASEAN plus Three Summit, the 8th East Asia Summit, the 11th ASEAN- India Summit and 5th ASEAN-UN Summit held at International Convention Centre in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 10 October 2013.

In his speech at the 16th ASEAN plus Three Summit, the President called for further cooperation in financial matters, highlighting cooperation among ASEAN plus three countries is crucial for security and sustainable development of East Asia and Myanmar’s willingness to take an active role in financial and monetary matters as relations between Myanmar and World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asia Myanmar hopes continuous support from dialogue partners as ASEAN chair Development Bank have been normalized. He added Myanmar has potentials for implementation of the three special economic zones— Kyaukpyu, Thilawa and Dawei— in linking ASEAN countries with plus three countries. He called on plus three countries to actively participate in holding discussions for the establishment of regional comprehensive economic partnership.

He pointed out that there has been a rising challenge to food security of the countries in the region as the world has experienced an unprecedented increase in population, underlying the importance of ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve, APTERR and successful realization of the program. Furthermore, he expressed thanks for support of ASEAN plus three nations in the matters of environmental conservation and risk management.

The President praised East Asia Forum (EAF), EAST Asia Vision Group (EAVG) and Network of ASEAN Think-Thanks (NEAT) for their activities being implemented in the framework of ASEAN plus three cooperation. He also spoke words of thanks for the support of ASEAN plus three countries to Myanmar’s bid for the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014, saying that Myanmar hopes to gain further support during Myanmar’s tenur as ASEAN Chair.

Also present at the Summit were heads of ASEAN state/government, Chinese Premier Mr. Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe, President of the Republic of Korea Ms. Park Geun-hey and the ASEAN Secretary- General.

The 8th East Asia Summit

In his speech at the 8th East Asia Summit, the President emphasized the importance of the summit as a forum to hold comprehensive discussions on political, security and economic matters which are strategically important for the countries in the region. He stressed the need for timely establishment of ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

Myanmar is ready to cooperate with development partnership for successful realization of electricity- generating projects and electrification process as energy sufficiency is set as a national priority, he added. Cooperation of international community in the development of agriculture sector in which Myanmar needs agricultural methods which suit climate change is also necessary.

He thanked member countries for their support to Myanmar’s reform processes and democratization, expressing his hope that there will be multi-sectoral cooperation with member countries of East Asia Summit when Myanmar took ASEAN chairmanship.

The ASEAN-India Summit

In his address at the ASEAN-India Summit attended by ASEAN leaders and Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh, the President said he was very pleased to see ASEAN and India turned their relations into strategic dialogue partnership at the Summit to mark the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-India dialogue partnership in New Delhi. He added ASEAN-India Trade in Service and Investment Agreement will be signed earlier and welcomed the trade target of US$ 100 billion between ASEAN and India by 2015. It is expected to start the highway project that will connect India to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand via Myanmar as soon as possible. Kaladan Multi-Model Transit Transport Project will contribute not only to smooth and secure trade and transport but also to better communications among regional countries.

The establishment of ASEAN-India Centre would spur the improvement of sectors in trade, investment and tourism sectors. He thanked India for its continuous support to Initiative for ASEAN Integration, IAI as well as Myanmar’s reform processes.

The 5th ASEAN-UN Summit

At the 5th ASEAN-UN Summit attended by heads of state/government of ASEAN countries and UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the President thanked the UN for its humanitarian assistance to Myanmar in the aftermath of severe cyclonic storm, Nargis and its resumption of Normal Country Programme of the UNDP 2013-2015 to Myanmar. He added cooperation with the United Nations is an vital to Myanmar’s foreign policy. The 2014 nationwide census programme would be a significant cooperation between Myanmar and the UN. He expressed his belief that cooperation in the areas of food and energy security, peace and stability, climate change and risk management between ASEAN and UN agencies, successful realization of ASEAN Community would indeed contribute towards better ASEAN-UN partnership.

The Handover of the ASEAN Chairmanship

President U Thein Sein attended the closing of the 23rd ASEAN Summit and the handover of the ASEAN Chairmanship to Myanmar held at the International Convention Centre in Bandar Seri Begawan of Brunei Darussalam at 4.30 p.m. Local Time on 10 October 2013. At the ceremony, the King of Brunei Darussalam made a speech and handed over the ASEAN Chairmanship to President U Thein Sein.

Speaking on the occasion, President U Thein Sein praised His Excellency the King, the Brunei government and its people for its successful steering of the ASEAN during the period of 2013. Brunei has been able to do its best for the People-Centered ASEAN which is part of the ASEAN efforts. In the international arena also, it has been able to further cement friendly ties with other countries as the ASEAN chairman and to maintain the ASEAN Centrality as well, he added. He said that he was pleased with the accepting of the ASEAN Chairmanship from Brunei that was able to serve as role model in the march towards the ASEAN Community. He noted that Myanmar will take concrete steps to carry out the remaining tasks of the ASEAN Community Roadmap together with ASEAN member countries while striving for the emergence of a follow-up task further strengthening the ASEAN Community.

To ensure a peaceful and prosperous community and for the community to flourish all the member countries need to be united. Towards this end, “Moving Forward in Unity, To a Peaceful and Prosperous Community” was chosen as the motto of the ASEAN Chairman for 2014, he said.

The ASEAN has constantly shown the unity and will continue to maintain the fine tradition. And Myanmar attached great importance to the chairmanship as it is the first time for it after it has become ASEAN members and pledged to successfully discharge that duty, he said. He said Myanmar as a responsible member nation will be working hard for success of the ASEAN and expressed his belief that he will be able to successfully take the chairmanship with the help of member countries. Afterwards, video clips on ASEAN cooperation of Myanmar that will take the chairmanship was shown.

On the sideline of the Summit and its related meetings, the President met with Prime Minister of Thailand Ms Ying Luck Shinawatra, U.S. Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry, Brunei King Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaulah and New Zealand Prime Minister Mr. John Key on separate occasions.

President U Thein Sein delivering speech at ASEAN Summit

President U Thein Sein addressing closing ceremony of 23rd ASEAN Summit

President U Thein Sein shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry during the ASEAN Summit in Brunei.

President U Thein Sein shakes hands with U.S.
Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry during the ASEAN Summit in Brunei.

President U Thein Sein takes ASEAN Chairmanship handed over by Brunei King Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaulah.(10-10-2013)

President U Thein Sein takes ASEAN Chairmanship handed over by
Brunei King Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaulah.

President U Thein Sein shaking hand with UN Secretary-General on the sideline of the summit.

President U Thein Sein shaking hand with UN Secretary-General on the sideline of the summit.

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(Source: New Light of Myanmar, 10-10-2013 & 11-10-2013)

Photos: President Office