| Leaders from the member countries of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) pose for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 17th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, Oct. 28, 2010. The ASEAN Summit opened here on Thursday to discuss the building of the ASEAN Community and other related topics. (Xinhua/Song Zhenping)
HANOI, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The 17th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit opened here on Thursday, as leaders from the member countries gathered to discuss the building of the ASEAN Community and other related topics.
Being the second ASEAN summit hosted by Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2010, the Summit was clouded by the natural disasters in Indonesia.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not attend the opening ceremony of the Summit this afternoon. He had to cut short his trip and returned home to oversee the rescue operation in the disaster-stricken area, after arriving here on Tuesday for a state visit prior to attending the Summit.
Delivering his speech at the opening ceremony, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that the meeting is to take stock of the ASEAN Community building process and define priority in the future.
The Vietnamese prime minister also urged the ASEAN members to accelerate the implementation of the programs and plans to build the ASEAN Community by creating a real improvement in the "culture of compliance", completing the full legal framework in line with the ASEAN Charter, improving the operational efficiency of ASEAN bodies and modalities, strengthening coordination among executing agencies, enhancing resources mobilization, and incorporate regional agreements into national development programs and plans.
He also mentioned that the bloc should make effort to build the ASEAN+3, or ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea, framework to a higher level, rendering it more comprehensive and effective.
Apart from the annual ASEAN+1 Summits with China, Japan, South Korea, and India, the bloc will also held summits with Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United Nations. The ASEAN will also consider the elevation of the ASEAN-South Korea relationship into a strategic partnership, in addition to the existing ones with China and Japan.
"We are glad to see the strong development of relations between ASEAN and its partners this year, as manifested by the strengthening of regular dialogue at various levels and the important outcomes in carrying out the plans of action to implement joint statements on strategic or comprehensive partnerships," he also said.
This year's East Asia Summit, one of the several related summits, will also be expanded to include Russia and the United States. For the first time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the East Asia Summit as special guests.
Some seven Chairman's Statements and 30 other important documents altogether will be submitted for leaders adoption during the ASEAN Summit and related summits, from Oct. 28 to 30, according to Tran Ngoc An, spokesman of the Summit.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Being one of the focal topics of the Summit, the participating leaders will discuss the Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity, which will anchor the region's bold and long-term strategy to improve the region's physical, institutional and people-to-people connection.
The master plan proposes strategies to boost road, rail, shipping, air and network among the ASEAN members to reduce economic disparities in the Southeast Asia.
Apart from the 17th ASEAN Summit, there was the annual ASEAN+1 Summit between ASEAN and its partners and the second ASEAN-Russia Summit, the ASEAN-Australia Summit, the ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit, the third ASEAN-UN Summit, the ASEAN+3 Summit, the fifth East Asia Summit, the second summit meeting between Japan and the Mekong region countries and the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.