Backgrounder: ASEAN Community's building process
Backgrounder: Chronology of previous ASEAN summits
PHNOM PENH, April 3 (Xinhua) -- The 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit kicked off in the Peace Palace here on Tuesday, gathering heads of state or government from 10 ASEAN member states.
The summit themed "ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny" is presided over by H.E. Hun Sen, the Cambodian Prime Minister, also Chair of the ASEAN Summits in 2012.
In his opening remarks, Hun Sen said the leaders attending the summit will have substantive and frank discussions in a plenary and retreat session over the next two days under a new arrangement of ASEAN Summit programs and agenda under the Cambodian Chairmanship.
He said he, along with other ASEAN leaders, welcomed with appreciation the achievements of the ASEAN over the past 45 years and that he believed the regional integration process will be built upon the momentum of achievements toward an ASEAN Community by 2015.
"The ASEAN has undergone a major transformation since its founding, from a region wracked by conflict, misery, and poverty to a region of peace, stability and development. After more than four decades of development, the ASEAN today has become a closely- integrated political and economic entity, an influential player in Asia and an indispensable strategic partner of major countries and organizations in the world," he added.
Hun also talked about the challenges facing the grouping that need to be addressed in a bid to realize ASEAN's objectives, in particular uncertain global financial and economic situations, and the development gap within the region.
He spelled out several priorities in 2012 for the ASEAN for consideration of all ASEAN leaders, including strengthening the mechanism for ensuring financial stability in the region, guaranteeing timely implementation of the Roadmap for ASEAN Community Building (2009-2015), promoting the speedy implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, among others.
A group of local artists in traditional attires gave joyous singing and dancing performances after Hun's speech in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the ASEAN.
The ASEAN ministers, the ASEAN Secretary General and Deputy Secretaries-General, the ASEAN Directors-General, the Permanent Representatives of ASEAN and invited guests also attended the opening ceremony.
The summit is expected to discuss a wide range of issues including the implementation of the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community Building (2009-2015) and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan (2009-2015), reviewing and promoting regional connectivity and integration, the establishment of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, efforts to create a drug-free zone in 2015, ASEAN common visa, climate management, among others.
The leaders are expected to sign three outcome documents at the close of the summit. These are the Chairman's Statement of the 20th ASEAN Summit; the Phnom Penh Agenda on ASEAN Community Building; and the ASEAN Leaders' Declaration on Drug-Free ASEAN 2015.
The ASEAN, established in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.