Singapore PM: ASEAN must unite to fight challenges

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 13) — The 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit has opened Tuesday in Singapore, with the theme of resilience and innovation.

In a speech before ASEAN leaders, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said member countries have to come together to tackle challenges being faced by the region.

Among these, Lee said, are cyberattacks, terrorism and climate change.

"Terrorism is not just an issue of physical security, but also a grave threat to the delicate multi-ethnic and multi-religious social fabric of many ASEAN countries," he said.

Climate change, meanwhile, does not just threaten lives but also affects crop yield and livelihoods.

"All these mean that multilateral cooperation is now more urgent than ever. These common challenges are complex and unprecedented. No single solution applies to all of us or all of these problems. And yet, no country can deal with them alone," Lee said.

ASEAN has been working hard to address issues, he added.

"We've strengthened the basis for a rules-based regional environment with the conclusion of the model ASEAN extradition treaty. And we've improved our collective resilience against transboundary threats, including cyberattacks and climate change," Lee said.

These achievements "underscore ASEAN's strong belief that multilateralism remains an important basis for international cooperation and for the region's growth and stability," Lee added.

The 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits is being held in Singapore until Friday, November 15.

President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in the city state Monday to attend the event, where he is expected to touch on the maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea at ASEAN meetings also to be attended China.