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ASEAN foreign ministers' meetings kick off in Brunei

English.news.cn   2013-06-30 11:52:28            

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, June 30 (Xinhua) -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting and a series of related meetings with the foreign ministers of its dialogue partners and related countries kicked off in Brunei on Sunday.

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting began on Sunday morning, with a joint communique expected at the end of the meeting.

"I think the main things will be, first, what our leaders asked to do at the last leaders' summit (in April), and secondly, to find ways to strengthen the region's overall peace and stability," Brunei's Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in his opening speech.

The topics for discussion are expected to include those related to the Roadmap for an ASEAN community, ASEAN's future direction and ASEAN's external relations, according to the ASEAN secretariat.

"We are working on efforts to build a resilient, dynamic and sustainable community by 2015 and the potentials for strengthening coordination and collaboration between ASEAN and dialogue partners in working towards mutual understanding, political dialogue and friendly cooperation," ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said earlier.

The ASEAN Foreign Minister's Meeting will be followed by Post Ministerial Conference, the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum and the Third East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

The meetings are expected to be a platform for discussions involving the ASEAN foreign ministers as well as the foreign ministers of major powers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

They are also expected to have bilateral and multilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meetings.

Most of the meetings will be closed-door sessions, but statements can be expected. A wide range of topics are expected to be covered by the foreign ministers in their discussions, such as regional integration and cooperation, regional security, the management of maritime disputes as well as transboundary haze. They might also touch upon the situation in Syria and the denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula.

"The ASEAN Regional Forum is one of those forums where all participating countries are sitting around the table," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters on Saturday.

Prince Mohamed Bolkiah said on Sunday that the ASEAN founding fathers' "idea of regionalism as a way forward to peace and stability is getting support."

"I think the Association is now entering a new period, with growing interest from many countries. There is also a lot of international interest in what we are doing," he said.

The 10-member ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The number of its dialogue countries have been expanding, with last two being the European Union and Canada.

The prince also said he was hoping that the ASEAN foreign ministers will "stick to the idea of ASEAN centrality."

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh last year failed to produce a joint communique as the Philippines tried to push for contents on its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea to be included.

ASEAN leaders have since called for the centrality of ASEAN in the regional cooperation to be respected.

"Let's hope this time around we will have a more quiet meeting than we had last year, and I am not pessimistic," Marty said.

Editor: Hou Qiang
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