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Speech By Singapore Defence Chief At ASEAN Meet

Speech By Mr Teo Chee Hean,Minister For Defence, At ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting

Good afternoon Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. Let me first warmly welcome all of you to Singapore for the Second ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting. I trust that all of you had a good rest last night, and for those who might have arrived a little earlier, I hope you had a chance to tour the city.

Singapore Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean giving the opening remarks at the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting 2007

I also hope that you have had a comfortable time, and that the arrangements thus far are suitable. If there is anything else that we can do for you, please do not hesitate to let myself or my staff know.

I am heartened to note that the ASEAN Defence Ministers have had the opportunity to meet for the third time since May last year when we first met. We first met at the inaugural ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting in Kuala Lumpur last year, and we met for the second time at the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Retreat in Bali earlier this year. We are now gathered for the second ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting. These meetings reflect the growing mutual trust and confidence between ASEAN defence establishments.

They are also a reflection of our collective commitment to bring defence and security cooperation within ASEAN to a higher plane. The progress of the ASEAN Defence Sectoral parallels the exciting changes in ASEAN as a whole. Next week, the ASEAN Charter will be put up to our Leaders for adoption.

The Charter signals a new chapter in ASEAN. It is a significant milestone in ASEAN's transformation into a more effective, rules-based organisation. At the same time, following our Leaders' decision at the Cebu Summit to bring forward the implementation of the ASEAN Community to 2015, ASEAN is redoubling its efforts at Community-Building and integration.

As a key Sectoral in the ASEAN Security Community, the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting has an important role to play in enhancing regional peace and stability.

While ASEAN militaries have been interacting now for many years, the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting provides ASEAN defence establishments with a much-needed platform for open and constructive dialogue and cooperation on a wide range of transnational defence and security issues. This is both timely and critical, as transnational threats like terrorism, piracy, natural disasters and infectious diseases remain high on our countries' security agendas.

The ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting also needs to respond to the evolving strategic developments in the wider region. Owing to globalisation, it is increasingly important for all ASEAN sectors, including the Defence Sectoral, to be plugged into the external environment.

As ASEAN's future is increasingly intertwined with the fate of the larger Asia-Pacific region, it is important that ASEAN defence establishments actively engage ASEAN's friends and Dialogue Partners. The ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting must aspire to be a useful component in a regional security architecture that is robust, effective, and inclusive.

It is therefore imperative for the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting to look at forging practical cooperation to address transnational security issues and at shaping the evolving regional security architecture. It is in the light of these two key imperatives that we are gathered here today. I look forward to a fruitful meeting and to hearing your views and perspectives in the course of the discussions.


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