Mr. Brende attended the 49th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) annual meeting of foreign ministers in Vientiane, Laos 24.-26. July. Norway was invited by the ASEAN board in Laos to join with ASEANs key dialogue partners.
On Sunday Mr. Brende met with Union Minister for Foreign Affairs and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The two leaders discussed key topic such as the peace process and economic development in Myanmar. The Global New Light of Myanmar, a local newspaper, published this article in Burmese, mentioning the meeting with Mr. Brende, adding that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also met with the foreign ministers of China and South Korea, respectively.
“The partnership with ASEAN is very positive for Norway. It provides us access to important political arenas, and Norwegian minisitries and businesses have better access to meeting potential partners at the governmental level. This improves Norwegian companies' opportunities in the Southeast Asian markets,” said Mr Brende.
ASEAN countries have great economic importance for Norway. In 2015 the ASEAN countries combined were Norway's fourth largest trading partner and the third most important export market. It was therefore a strategic breakthrough when Norway in August last year was granted a formal sector dialogue partnership with ASEAN.
"Through our dialogue and our partnership with ASEAN, we want to work together to strengthen regional stability, peaceful and sustainable development, regional economic integration and good, predictable framework conditions for Norwegian industry. Regional and global issues and respect for international legal order and human rights will also be on the agenda," Mr. Brende added.
In addition to meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Brende met the ASEAN Secretary-General, the foreign ministers from Laos and the Philippines, and other key players from Southeast Asia and ASEAN partner countries and organizations that also attended the meeting.
During the visit the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Norway and Laos were also highlighted.