Foreign Ministers from ASEAN and Russia to Discuss COVID-19 Cooperation

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (5th L) poses for a family photo with foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries during the ASEAN Russia Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok on July 31, 2019. (Photo: AFP)
  • Torn Chanritheara
  • June 15, 2020 10:08 AM

As the pandemic ravages Russia, its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with his ASEAN counterparts this week to discuss tactics for defeating the virus.

PHNOM PENH--Foreign Ministers from ten ASEAN countries and their Russian counterpart will meet virtually this week to exchange lessons learnt from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and discuss bilateral relations between the bloc and Russia, according to a statement from Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday (June 15). 

According to ministry’s statement, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn will attend the special ASEAN-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on COVID-19 via videoconference to be held on June 17. 

The most recent data from the World Health Organization—a situation report published on June 14—shows that Southeast has so far recorded 455,439 cases of COVID-19, with 16,091 of them being recorded 24 hours before the report was published. It also confirmed that 12,526 people have died from COVID-19 in the region.

Meanwhile Russia, with an estimated population of 145 million, has recorded 528,964 cases in total, with 6,948 people dead. Despite ASEAN member states being home to almost four times as many people as Russia, the number of COVID-19 cases recorded there have risen to the highest in Europe—significantly surpassing the number of cases in Southeast Asia.

So far, ASEAN member states have been affected very differently by COVID-19, with Cambodia, Brunei and Vietnam recording no deaths and very few cases, but with tens of thousands of cases being identified in Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines. 

As of June 15, Cambodia’s number of COVID-19 cases held steady at 128, but 125 of those have already made a full recovery.

Indonesia will co-chair the meeting with Russia, the ministry said, noting that Indonesia is currently the coordinator for ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations.  

“This video-conference is held amidst a tough and hectic time of unprecedented global challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, which needs collective combat through unity and solidarity that rest upon the foundation of an effective multilateralism,” it said. 

“It will mark a new step forward in the ASEAN-Russia strategic relation for long-term collaboration and cooperation,” the ministry said.

According to the statement, the top diplomats from ASEAN and Russia will exchange views on best practices and lessons learnt in countering the pandemic. It went on to say that the two side will also discuss ways to enhance cooperation in all areas of mutual interests and strengthen the ASEAN-Russia Strategic Partnership, particularly on public health.

This meeting will be the fourth of its kind this year, with ASEAN member states keen to learn from their dialogue partners. The regional bloc has held meetings with China and then with ASEAN Plus Three dialogue partners; namely China, Japan and South Korea, as well as a separate meeting with the United States. 

In mid-April, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also attended the special summit with leaders from others ASEAN and Plus Three countries to discuss the pandemic. 

Cambodia will also play host to the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit, which is currently scheduled to take place in Phnom Penh from Nov. 16 to Nov. 17, 2020.



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