PHNOM PENH, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) kicked off here on Monday, focusing on politics, security, food and energy security, economics and culture in order to further advance the bloc's cooperation toward a community by 2015.
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting at the Peace Palace, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the meeting coincided with the celebration of the 45th anniversary of ASEAN and it was convened amid ASEAN's ongoing efforts toward building the ASEAN Community by 2015.
He said that after 45 years, ASEAN 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."
"The ASEAN achievements recorded to date are enormous and of great importance," he said. "Those achievements underline the strong commitment and political will of ASEAN to continue working closely together in the ASEAN spirit of unity and solidarity, friendship and cooperation."
However, despite the achievements, ASEAN still continues to face challenges both globally and regionally such as the fragility of the economic recovery of developed countries, coupled with prolonged severe debt crisis in Europe, the ongoing social and political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, high oil prices, food and energy security, disasters, and terrorism and trans-national crimes.
"These still pose a great threat to the sustainability of socio-economic development of ASEAN achieved over the last four decades and the success of our effort towards realizing a full ASEAN Community in 2015," said Hun Sen.
Cambodian deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said at the opening remarks that ASEAN has been making steady progress in consolidating solidarity and unity within ASEAN and in deepening cooperation with all dialogue partners in order to build an economically sound and socially vibrant ASEAN Community, as well as contributing to peace and prosperity in the region.
Apart from the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, the Post- Ministerial Conferences, the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum and the 2nd East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting will also be held until July 13.
Top on the list are the instruments for the accession of the European Union to one of the region's foremost instruments on peace and security, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), said a press release ahead of the meeting.
As a testament of the importance of the TAC governing inter- state relations in the region, the United Kingdom, which is a non- Dialogue Partner of ASEAN, would also be acceding to the TAC, the press release said.
At the end of the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, there will be a signing ceremony on the ASEAN Statement on the Protocol to the Treaty of Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) and a Joint Communiqu will be adopted.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)group Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.