The inaugural East Asia Summit (EAS) opened Wednesday morning at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center following the 11th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and other related Summits.
The first EAS, the highlight of the series of summits, was participated by leaders from ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, although the latter three countries are located geographically outside east Asia.
The leaders were meeting at a time when the region is being stalked by bird flu, HIV/AIDS, killer earthquakes, rising oil prices, terrorism, among other issues.
After the opening ceremony, a special session time was reserved for President Vladimir Putin of Russia to address the leaders of the 16 nations to inform what his country, a major power, could offer.
After Putin's address, the leaders began their informal discussion about the EAS's future. They are expected to sign afterwards the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the East Asia Summit and adopt a declaration on prevention of avian flu.
The EAS will be a forum for dialogues on broad strategic issues of relevance to East Asia as well as other regional and international issues.
Local media commented that the EAS is not expected to produce any concrete results, but its significance lies in the ability of Asian countries to come together and identify challenges and opportunities for the region.