Asean foreign ministers retreat in Chiang Mai (video)

Asean foreign ministers and senior officials have gathered in the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai for the 2019 Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (AFMR) and the Asean Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM).

The meetings signify the first major events of Thailand’s year as Asean chair and the first opportunity for it to lay out its priorities for the year ahead.

Based on the theme ‘Advancing Partnership For Sustainability’, Thailand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, will outline the three pillars of its slogan in greater detail:

  • Advancing: to be future-oriented and better prepared for the future by making use of the technological advances from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while building immunities against disruptive technologies.
  • Partnership: to strengthen partnership at all levels and enhance connectivity to realise a seamless Asean that is linked to other regions through the region including “connecting the connectivities” and closer people to people ties and Asean identity.
  • Sustainability: to promote sustainability in all dimensions, including sustainable development cooperation, so that we can realise ‘sustainable Asean’.

The three pillars compliment what Thailand sees as the next 3Cs of Asean, creativity, complementarities, and continuity (See: Thailand to lead Asean with creativity, complementarities and continuity (video)).

While the Asean 2019 website established to disseminate information provides some details of what will be discussed, local English-language newspaper the Bangkok Post has provided more insight.

Citing a draft chairman’s press statement allegedly obtained by Kyodo News, it reported that the AFMR will also visit topics such as the ongoing Rohingya crisis in neighbouring Myanmar, the South China Sea, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and East Timor’s desire to join the Asean bloc.

According to the report, the thorny issue of Rohingya refugee repatriation is said to be high on the agenda. If so it would demonstrate Thailand’s preparedness to support its rhetoric of a more inclusive and people focused Asean with actions.

In the video above Mr Pramudwinai explains the three pillars of Thailand’s Asean chair theme and goals:


Feature video Asean-Thailand Secretariat

Feature image Asean-Thailand Secretariat



  • Asean foreign ministers begin talks, Rohingya on agenda (Bangkok Post)
  • Thailand to lead Asean with creativity, complementarities and continuity (video) (AEC News Today)
  • The significance of Asean’s retreats (Bangkok Post)


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John Le Fevre

Thailand editor at AEC News Today

John is an Australian national with more than 35 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer and copy editor.

He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.

He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.

In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.

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