MANILA (UPDATE) - Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday converged at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to discuss the region's progress on key initiatives and its stance on critical international issues.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano led opening ceremonies of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM) and noted how, since its founding, the bloc "has delivered on its promise of peace, stability and economic developments for its people."
"Last night, we had a taste of discussing the ASEAN way and we came out better... We were able to passionately argue our national interests but, at the same time, we put first regional interest to come out as friends with solutions to our problems," Cayetano said in his opening speech.
It is Cayetano's first ASEAN hosting as the country's top diplomat.
In a statement ahead of the event, the DFA said the ministers "will have an exchange of views on regional and international issues, and other issues of common concern with the view [of] identifying possible areas of cooperation to address these issues."
At the plenary session, Cayetano and his counterparts from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are expected to discuss details of the regional bloc's meeting with its 17 other dialogue partners, including major powers United States, Russia, Japan, and China.
Issues expected to be discussed among the top diplomats include the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime.
Cayetano said ASEAN's preference for holding "constructive dialogue, consultation and confidence-building among its members and partners" has made its meetings one of the key venues where political and security issues could be amicably settled.
"If there is a single characteristic that makes our community truly unique and admirable, it is the existence of the peaceful settlement of regional disputes and on regional cooperation as the best, if not the surest means of achieving peace," Cayetano told his audience, among them foreign ministers, Philippine officials and other guests.
"ASEAN has been able to leverage on the strength of its partners to be able to address common concerns," Cayetano said.
During the meeting, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights will also update foreign ministers on the human rights situation in the region and how the agency addresses these issues.
"The ASEAN Foreign Ministers may provide guidance and instructions on how to further promote and protect human rights in ASEAN based on ASEAN’s Terms of Reference and the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration," the DFA said.
The 50th AMM is among key meetings scheduled at the ASEAN event in Manila slated until Tuesday.
On Monday, foreign ministers of the ASEAN and its 17 dialogue partners are set to meet in the ASEAN Regional Forum, a key multilateral security dialogue.