Asean plots bold 2034 World Cup bid

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Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi (1st R) pose for a group photo during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, June 22, 2019. Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak

Asean leaders will be asked at the bloc’s summit today to green-light a bid to jointly host the Fifa World Cup in the next 15 years, according to Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

Speaking after the Asean foreign ministers’ meeting yesterday, Mr Don said the ministers agreed with proposals made by Asean countries’ national football associations to co-host the World Cup in 2034.

“The proposal will be forwarded to the 34th Asean Summit today for consideration and approval,” he said.

A series of meetings were held at the Asean Summit yesterday, including meetings between the bloc’s leaders and representatives from the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, Asean Youth and the Business Advisory Council.

Gen Prayut yesterday held three bilateral meetings with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the summit.

Deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said Gen Prayut and Mr Widodo touched on the upcoming 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries next year, and said the two leaders are committed to deepening cooperation.

Gen Prayut said Thailand and Indonesia should work together to tackle investment barriers to accommodate investors from both nations, Lt Gen Werachon said.

The premier also praised Indonesia for joining efforts to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

In the meeting with the Vietnamese premier, Gen Prayut said Thailand is ready to attend the fourth joint cabinet meeting between the two countries in Vietnam to follow up on various cooperation issues, according to Lt Gen Werachon.

He added Thailand is also happy to share its experience tackling the IUU problem with Vietnam.

Thailand is also keen on working with Vietnam and Laos to develop the R12 road, which connects the three countries.

Mr Phuc told local media he was pleased that Vietnam-Thai relations have witnessed continuous growth, particularly since the two countries established the Strategic Partnership in 2013.

“The stable continuation of the Thai government facilitates the growth of bilateral relations in the years ahead,” he said.

Lt Gen Werachon said Gen Prayut told Ms Suu Kyi that Thailand and Asean are ready to assist Myanmar with the Rohingya issue in Rakhine state. Thailand also stands ready to assist in boosting Myanmar people’s quality of life, ranging from education and public health to community development and fisheries, he added.

Lt Gen Werachon, meanwhile, said Gen Prayut is keen on wrapping up an agreement in relation to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes 10 Asean members, in addition to India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, China and New Zealand.

The premier also wants Asean to play a greater role in other economic cooperation frameworks, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, the spokesman added.

Speaking after the Plenary Session of the Asean Summit, Lt Gen Werachon said leaders of Asean countries are committed to wrapping up talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of this year.

“All member states agreed that RCEP is important for this region because of the uncertainty of the world economy. The partnership will be an important strategy to drive members’ GDP growth and attract investments to Asean,” Lt Gen Werachon said.

Signatory countries to RCEP have a combined population of about 3.56 billion, with a trade volume of more than US$10.3 trillion (about 328 trillion baht), or 29% of the world’s trade. Thailand’s trade volume with RCEP members amounted to $290 billion in 2018, or 59.7% of its total trade.

Lt Gen Werachon said that apart from strengthening their cooperation in diverse sectors including politics, security and economics, all leaders also agreed to cooperate more on preparing their economies and populations for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

The leaders will meet again today and are expected to discuss controversial issues such as the South China Sea dispute and the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The Asean leaders yesterday adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in Asean Region, the Asean Framework of Action on Marine Debris, the Asean Leaders’ Statement on the Asean Cultural Year 2019 and the Asean Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability.

At the end of the 34th Asean Summit today, 17 plans including the Asean Indo-Pacific Outlook, are expected to be endorsed.

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