US pledges to boost efforts in maritime Southeast Asia

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Delegates at the opening ceremony of the third annual Commander's Forum Gulf of Thailand Maritime Enforcement Interoperability Initiative in Da Nang January 14

The US is committed to supporting safety in the Southeast Asian seas, the US Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City told the third Commanders' Forum -- a meeting of regional coast guard forces -- in the central city of Da Nang Tuesday.

Consul General Rena Bitter was delivering a speech that emphasized the re-balancing of US efforts in the Asia-Pacific region. The meeting was attended by several countries' maritime law enforcement agencies operating in the Gulf of Thailand.

She said that as the world's geopolitical focus is gradually shifting to the Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia, the US is doing the same.

She affirmed the US commitment to giving support to the implementation of efforts to ensure safety in the Southeast Asian sea for a stable and prosperous future for all.

She said cooperation among Southeast Asian nations would be key to maintaining and promoting a more secure and stable environment that enables sustained peace and prosperity. She said the forum was a good example of such cooperation.

The three-day event, which attracted the participation of coast guard forces from Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam, is reviewing issues of law enforcement in marine security, rescue efforts, human and drug trafficking, smuggling, fishing regulation violations, piracy and armed robbery on the high seas over the last few years.

Indonesia has also been invited to the forum as an observer.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Major-General Nguyen Quang Dam, the high commander of the Vietnam Coast Guard, said the four countries' maritime law enforcement agencies had cooperated closely over the last two years thanks to the forum.

Dam said Vietnam is gradually playing a more important role in managing security, order and safety conditions in the ocean in compliance with Vietnamese and international regulations.

He said he hoped that the delegations would create cooperation initiatives in dealing with arising issues at sea, the training of human resources and search and rescue activities.

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