Vietnam postpones hosting Asian security forum


Manila: Vietnam has postponed its hosting of Asia’s largest security forum, which includes North Korea, and an annual meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers by a month to September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two Southeast Asian diplomats said Monday that Vietnam, which leads the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, hopes to hold face to face meetings in mid-September instead of doing them by online video due to travel restrictions if the annual gatherings were to be held as originally scheduled later this week.

The 10-nation bloc hosts the ASEAN Regional Forum, which brings together its top diplomats with counterparts from the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India, the two Koreas and other Asia Pacific countries to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and other security issues.

Most of about 1,300 ASEAN meetings this year have so far been shifted online due to the coronavirus pandemic, including an annual summit of ASEAN leaders last month. More sensitive talks, including secretive negotiations between China and ASEAN member states for a so-called code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, have been delayed indefinitely, said the two diplomats, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the matter publicly.