State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya, speaking at the 28th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held virtually on 6 August 2021, emphasised Sri Lanka's commitment for enhanced cooperation with the ARF. The State Minister Balasuriya appreciated the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) for the initiatives to empower youth, sustainable use of ocean resources and promoting successful ocean based trading system, as well as combating and preventing cybercrime in the context of developing a digital economy through a collective mechanism. Sri Lanka further expressed its commitment to work in tandem with ARF and contribute, with a focused effort, to promote ideas and best practices. State Minister of Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya represented Sri Lanka at the meeting which was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Brunei Darussalam Dato Erywan Yusof.
Sri Lanka was appointed to be a co-chair of the Inter – Sessional Meeting on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament 2022, together with Viet Nam and the United States. In this initiative, Sri Lanka will play a lead role in the area of use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. At this year's ARF, Sri Lanka co-sponsored the Joint Statement to Promote the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda together with Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Australia, US, New Zealand and Canada, expressing Sri Lanka's commitment to invest in youth for future prosperity. Sri Lanka will also host a Workshop in the field of disaster management contributing to the discussion on nurturing a climate of stability, especially in the dynamic disaster prone Southeast Asian region.
The participating ministers from member countries exchanged views on a wide array of issues facing the region including possible future challenges. All members endorsed the importance of enhancing regional and international solidarity and cooperation towards a collective and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and advancing global recovery.
The Meeting also expressed concerns over the situation in Myanmar and urged to address the issues as agreed at the ASEAN Leaders Meeting on 24 April 2021, through the Five-Point Consensus and its swift implementation through a clear timeline. Furthermore, all members called for achieving complete denuclearisation and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through diplomacy and dialogue. Referring to the South China Sea, the meeting reiterated the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability through peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law. The Meeting further affirmed its commitment to addressing the complex challenges posed by terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime, and the importance of ensuring security of ICT supply chains for economic growth, within the rapidly changing ICT environment.
ARF has over the years contributed as a premium platform for security, dialogue and cooperation in the region to deal with issues through a collective approach.