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UPDATED: 14:44, December 07, 2006
ASEAN Summit to focus on security, trade, energy issues
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Discussions will focus on closer integration, ASEAN Charter, energy security and counter-terrorism during the 12th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit and related summits to be held in Cebu, the Philippines, on Dec. 10-14, Philippine officials said in Cebu on Thursday.

Luis Cruz, Philippine Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary, told reporters that documents on closer regional cooperation, efforts to fight terrorism, the welfare of children and energy independence through the development of biofuels and other issues are to be taken up during the summits.

On other highlights of the summits, Cruz said leaders from ASEAN and its dialogue partners, namely China, Japan and Republic of Korea, together with India, Australia and New Zealand, will also discuss ways to address the energy security situation, a common problem of many countries in the region.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

An ASEAN committee in charge of security and transnational crime is drafting the convention that involves different forms of cooperation to combat terrorism, particularly international terrorism, according to ASEAN diplomats.

Through its chairmanship, the Philippines has set the theme of the 12th ASEAN summit as "One Caring and Sharing Community" in a hope to speed up ASEAN integration and community building so as to promote regional social development.

Relations among ASEAN countries are expected to deepen as leaders of the 10-member ASEAN will discuss measures that would accelerate the bloc's economic integration within the region, said Cruz. On the single currency issue, Cruz said ASEAN leaders are unlikely to adopt a full currency union similar to that of the European Union when they meet here.

Instead, the ASEAN leaders would likely discuss more extensively ways and means to boost regional economies through the free trade zones scheme in preparation for a possible currency union in the future, Cruz said.

"Monetary integration is not on the table," Cruz said, adding that the agenda of the leaders meeting include social-cultural concerns, terrorism, and economic concerns.

"There would be economic agreements to support previous agreements on the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement or AFTA," he said.

Ambassador Victorino Lecaros, spokesman of the 12th ASEAN Summit, said it is impossible at this time for the ASEAN member states to adopt a common currency system as there are several concerns that must be addressed before the proposal could take off.

He said that there is greater political and economic diversity in the ASEAN region compared to that of Europe. Lecaros added, however, the currency union among ASEAN member states "may happen in the distant future."

The idea of a single currency for the ASEAN was first raised during the Hanoi Action Plan in 1997 when the region was reeling from a financial crisis.

The ASEAN Charter recommended by the Eminent Persons Group would also be discussed during the summit together with other initiatives for regional peace and security, said Cruz.

The 12th ASEAN summit will push forward their cooperation on services sectors, with the focus of the deployment of migrant workers, particularly nurses, in the region, according to Cruz.

He said that nurses from the Philippines and other member countries could freely move within the region under the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) expected to be signed next week by the ASEAN economic ministers.

Lecaros said the migrant workers agreement seeks to provide migrant workers free access to the courts of the country where they are working.

The leaders of ASEAN will hold the 2nd East Asia Summit with the leaders of China, Japan, Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand on Dec. 13.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said Wednesday in Beijing that China supports ASEAN to take a leading role in the process of promoting East Asian cooperation.

Cui said the current reality of East Asian cooperation is driven by the common needs of all countries within the region and is in the interest of all of them.

He said China respected the ASEAN which has been playing a leading role in the East Asian cooperation process and hoped it could continue to play such a role, adding that the U.S. is a very important country, an important cooperative partner for East Asian countries, which has close relationship with them and has its own reasonable concern and interests in this region.

Cui stressed the East Asian cooperation is open and not exclusive and they welcome other countries outside the region to strengthen cooperation and exchange with the inside countries.

Cui said he believed different types of cooperation should complement rather than exclude each other.

Source: Xinhua

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