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Cambodia says Southeast Asian security no longer “zero-sum game”

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, April 26(Xinhua) — Cambodia’s defense chief said Thursday that the security of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region is no longer a “zero-sum game” suggesting insecurity in one state may affect others in the region.

“We come to understand that your security is my security and my security is your security. Our security is so much connected and interdependent that we have come to realize that our security community and connectivity is our destiny, and that can be earned, ” Tea Banh, deputy prime minister and minister of Cambodia’s National Defense said at the opening of the ASEAN Defence Senior Officials Meeting (ADSOM) plus eight in northern province of Siem Reap.

“This is no longer a ‘zero-sum game’ environment, and the region as an entity has worked very well to reduce the security dilemma that used to be rampant in our region,” he said, adding that the ASEAN region has moved from the “competitive security” mindset towards the norm of “cooperative security”.

More than 100 senior military officials from the 10 ASEAN member states plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand, Russia and the United States gathered in Siem Reap since Monday exchanging views on a wide range of common issues of regional security threats and risks.

The meetings are separated into two phases involving ASEAN states only and the ASEAN plus eight.

As the first meeting concluded Wednesday, Gen. Neang Phat who chaired the meeting said, “We have agreed and understood that our region is not yet free of traditional and non-traditional security challenges, and hence, we reaffirmed our commitment to combat such security challenges by furthermore promoting and enhancing the defense capacity building and cooperation, mutual trust and confidence building among ASEAN member states.”

“What we have learnt from the meeting is, If ASEAN is in trouble or fails to be united into a harmonized political and security community, both national security and regional security will eventually face with difficulties or disasters, too,” he said.

On the part of peace seeking solution, Tea Banh said in order to “solve any conflict, first of all we need to build trust and relationship based on which mutual understanding can be developed. Conflicts are generally caused by miscommunication and miscalculation. As long as we keep our communication channel open and lively then we can reduce and avoid conflicts.”

However, he said, “If the conflict cannot be avoided, then we need to use all available mechanisms including both bilateral and multilateral to find solution to the problem. In addition to this, preventive diplomacy and effective conflict resolution mechanism are necessary to maintain peace and stability in the region.”

He, meanwhile, said Cambodia is proud to share her experiences and expertise in conflict management, resolution, peacekeeping and peace building with regional friends.

“Cambodia has transformed itself from a recipient of peacekeeping forces to the sender of peacekeeping forces; from the victim of landmines to be the global leader in campaigning against landmines; and from inward looking defense policy to outward oriented defense diplomacy and cooperation especially under the ASEAN and ASEAN-Plus framework,” he added.

The ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) was established in 2006 and it meets annually since then. The last 5th ADMM was held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 19 May 2011.

The ADMM is the highest defense mechanism within ASEAN with an aim to promote mutual trust and confidence through greater understanding of defense and security challenges as well as enhancement of transparency and openness.

The annual ADMM facilitates the ASEAN defense ministers to discuss and exchange views on current defense and security issues and challenges in the region.

The ADMM-Plus was established in 2010 and it meets triennially. The next ADMM-Plus will be held in Brunei in 2013.

The ADMM-Plus process is a tool to engage ASEAN Dialogue Partners in dialogue and cooperation on defense and security matters.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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