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MOSCOW, April 26. /TASS/. Boosting military contacts between Russia and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries is in line with the interests of the Asia-Pacific as a whole, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday.
"We positively assess the general attitude of developing cooperation in the military sphere. We think that expanding military ties in the Russia-ASEAN framework is in line with the interests of not only our countries but also of the whole Asia-Pacific Region," Shoigu said.
"We are aimed at expanding bilateral contacts with ASEAN countries. A number of meetings with the defense ministers of the association’s member states is scheduled to discuss in detail the issues of military and technical cooperation," the mionister added.
The official pointed out that the militaries of Russia and the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have similar approaches towards resolving international conflicts and countering terrorism and security threats.
"There is a coincidence in our approaches towards resolving international conflicts, countering new challenges and security threats, above all, terrorism," he said.
Shoigu thanked the participants in the meeting for their assessments and ideas on strengthening security in the Asia-Pacific region. "I am grateful for the views you have expressed on the possible ways to boost Russia’s role in regional affairs," he said.
The minister also noted that the main areas of cooperation, primarily in countering terrorism, maritime security, disaster management and humanitarian demining activities have been identified at the meeting.
"Today we have been able to identify a number of areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, primarily countering international terrorism, maritime security, assistance in dealing with the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters, military medicine and humanitarian demining activities," he said.
"Of course, this is far from the full list of possible joint projects," the minister said.
According to the minister, he will do his utmost to make the visit of the defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to Russia interesting and memorable.
"For many of you this is the first visit to our country, so we will try to make sure that your stay in the Russian capital is interesting and memorable," said Shoigu welcome the delegations arriving in Moscow for a meeting of the defense ministers of ASEAN member-countries and Russia.
He thanked them for supporting the initiative to hold an informal meeting of the defense ministries and recalled that this is the first meeting in the history of relations between Russia and ASEAN.
"I would like to express special gratitude to the Laotian side, which provided invaluable assistance in organizing the event as a coordinator," the Russian minister added.
Russia has been ASEAN’s dialogue partner since July 1996, and the partnership turns 20 this year.
"Much has been done over the past years. The current main task is to summarize the achieved results and outline long-term objectives in all spheres - in the political, economic and humanitarian. They will be actively discussed at the upcoming ASEAN-Russia Summit to be held in Sochi in May", Shoigu said.
He said that he regarded the defense ministers’ meeting as an important contribution to the preparations for the jubilee meeting of the heads of state.
"Today, I propose to exchange views on the most pressing international and regional security issues, compare approaches to their settlement, to outline the ways for the strengthening of cooperation through the military departments," Shoigu told the ministers.
The meeting between the defense ministers of Russia and the ASEAN member-countries is held ahead of the Russia-ASEAN summit that will take place in Sochi on May 19-20. It's going to be the biggest international event in Russia this year.
The territory of the ASEAN member-countries covering an area of 4,5 million square kilometers is home to about 600 million people. Its cumulative GDP is about $3.5 trillion. It is expected to reach $4 trillion by 2020. ASEAN is becoming an increasingly attractive area for foreign investment. In 2014, its amount grew 16% exceeding $136 billion.