July 23, 2009 (6:10 p.m. EDT)
No. 204

Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai Concludes Productive ASEAN Meetings in Thailand

Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded meetings with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where he exchanged views with officials from ASEAN and ASEAN Regional Forum countries on a range of regional and global issues.

“Canada is committed to the continued development of a comprehensive, two-way relationship with Southeast Asia and with the Asia-Pacific region,” said Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai. “Through our engagement with ASEAN and our participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum, we demonstrate our enduring and growing ties to the region, and are able to consult, exchange views and advocate for Canadian interests.”

A highlight of the meetings was the unanimous adoption of the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership, which will form the cornerstone of Canada’s relationship with ASEAN and define the multi-faceted cooperation between Canada and ASEAN members in the years to come. The Declaration provides the opportunity to advance Canadian priorities in diverse fields, including human rights and fundamental freedoms, counterterrorism, transnational issues, security, trade and investment, sustainable development and people-to-people contacts.

“The security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region remain key to Canada’s strategic interests,” said Mr. Obhrai. “We value our participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum and that body’s efforts to enhance cooperation on security issues, such as disaster response, nuclear non-proliferation and maritime security, as well as on the promotion of democracy and human rights.”

Mr. Obhrai raised Canadian concerns regarding the continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, and called for the unconditional release of all Burma’s political prisoners and the conduct of free and fair elections. He also expressed Canada’s condemnation of North Korea’s recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch, calling on the country to rejoin the Six-Party Talks.

Canada participated in the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference and ASEAN Regional Forum on July 22 and 23 in Phuket, Thailand.

ASEAN is composed of Southeast Asian member countries and Canada is one of its dialogue partners. The ASEAN Regional Forum includes the 10 ASEAN member states, Canada and 16 other members.

Canada continues to support freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the region and around the world.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874