Indonesia’s top ASEAN official top diplomats from Southeast Asia are to meet their Chinese counterpart on Thursday in Laos in search of a collective response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, a senior foreign policy official from Indonesia confirmed to The Jakarta Post, as the region starts to reel from the effects of the epidemic.
ASEAN foreign ministers are to convene in an upcoming emergency ministerial meeting in Vietniane to explore possible cooperation with China to share information and improve coordination among China and the 10-nation bloc to combat the virus.
The virus has infected upward of 50,000 people and killed nearly 2,000 – predominantly in China’s Hubei province and mostly in the central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. According to Nikkei Asian Review, cases are rising in the region, which depends heavily on trade and tourism flows with China. Nations have taken measures such as restricting travel, even as they brace for the economic impact of the outbreak.
“[The meeting] will discuss further cooperation on the coronavirus [response] and also [to prepare for when] similar diseases occur in the future,” Indonesia’s top ASEAN official, Jose Tavares, as quoted by The Jakarta Post.
ASEAN foreign ministers held their annual retreat just last month in Vietnam, the country serving as chair of the association this year.
Meanwhile, the ASEAN nations have already reached a substantial agreement to hold a summit with the United States in mid-March in Las Vegas, based on an invitation by US President Donald Trump, the sources said to ABS-CBN.