15:18 GMT28 February 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Washington’s recent efforts to increase US influence in Southeast Asia by promoting its concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific region are against the core principles of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says.

    "Recently, we have been witnessing attempts by the US to strengthen its influence in Southeast Asia, including through the promotion of the concept of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific region (IPR).’ According to their plans, this strategy should replace the usual format of Asia Pacific cooperation. We stand for maintaining the effective system of intergovernmental relations, which has formed on the basis of ASEAN", Medvedev said in an interview with the Bangkok Post newspaper.

    The prime minister stressed that the IPR initiative is against the founding principles of ASEAN, such as non-alignment, and that ASEAN members have expressed strong support for the creation of an all-inclusive space and economic cooperation.

    "In this regard, we consider the American initiative a serious challenge for the ASEAN countries, since it can weaken the association’s positions and deprive it of its status as a key player in resolving regional security issues", Medvedev emphasized.

    He has also proposed to hold joint naval drills with the participation of Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with the aim of increasing regional security.

    "I am sure that this will increase the maritime security of the ten-member bloc", the Russian prime minister stressed, pointing out that Russian ships make regular friendly calls at the ports of Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

    Medvedev added that Russia is ready to help ASEAN countries to fight piracy and illegal fishing, to ensure the safety of ports and to help in maritime search operations and in natural disaster response measures. According to the Prime Minister, Russia is already doing a lot with that respect and is 'ready to increase cooperation in the area'.

    "We are also ready to help with the management of fish resources and in the fight against the pollution of marine areas, including plastic waste. Today, this is one of the most acute problems of the Asia-Pacific region", he added.

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Saturday to participate in the 2019 ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. Medvedev is expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event.

    According to Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, the trade turnover between Russia and the bloc increased by 7 percent in 2018 and stood at $19.8 billion.

    The summit encompasses 10 ASEAN member states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – as well as Russia, Australia, India, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

    Dmitry Medvedev, Bangkok, Russia-ASEAN summit, ASEAN
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