ASEAN, Australia vow to work with WHO on COVID-19

(180804) — SINGAPORE, Aug. 4, 2018 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (3rd L) poses for a group photo during the foreign ministers’ meeting of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) held in Singapore, Aug. 4, 2018. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey) (lrz)

Phnom Penh, July 1 (IANS) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia vowed to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant agencies to enhance collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Cambodian foreign ministry’s press statement.

The statement was released on Tuesday after the special ASEAN-Australia foreign ministers’ meeting on COVID-19 via video conference, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The meeting agreed to work with relevant international organisations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), and the global community to enhance collective pandemic preparedness and response and to prevent its long-term impacts,” it said.

During the virtual meeting, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said ASEAN has been very active since the beginning of the crisis in galvanizing collective response, not only among ASEAN member states but also with their external partners, the statement said.

“The proactive approach of ASEAN can send a clear message that, in time of crisis, the international communities in fact need to ramp up coordinated and collective response as well as international solidarity,” he said.

Sokhonn, who is also a deputy prime minister, said ASEAN and Australia need to stay vigilant of a second wave of infection as countries are beginning to draft their own respective roadmap for easing the COVID-19 restriction.

“We must continue to intensify our efforts to defeat this pandemic together on all fronts as our respective governments have committed at the 73rd World Health Assembly,” he said.

He added that as part of the economic recovery plan, a concrete action can be done through the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the earliest possible time.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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