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Putin to meet with all ASEAN leaders at Russia-ASEAN summit — Kremlin

May 17, 2016, 16:26 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with all ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN summit, says Russian president’s aide Yuri Ushakov

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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with all ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of a Russia-ASEAN summit in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Russian president’s aide Yuri Ushakov said on Tuesday.

He said Putin’s schedule of contacts in Sochi is very busy. Thus, he is expected to meet with President of the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank Jin Liqun on May 18. It will be their first meeting. "The issue of allocating a position of the bank’s vice president to Russia is now being looked at and will be discussed at the meeting. We want to see our trade representative in Beijing Gruzdev on that post," Ushakov said.

Also on May 18, Indonesian President Joko Widodo will pay an official visit.

On May 19, Putin will meet with Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw. It will be the first Russian visit by the Myanmar head of state. Priority attention, according to the Russian president’s aide, will be focused on trade-and-economic and investment cooperation. "One of the most promising cooperation areas is energy," Ushakov said, adding that humanitarian contacts between the countries are developing dynamically as well. Thus, about 3,500 Russian tourists visited Myanmar in 2015.

After that, the Russian leader will speak with Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah to exchange views on prospects for expanding cooperation in the political, trade-and-economic and humanitarian spheres. Trade-and-economic relations with Brunei, according to Ushakov, are lagging behind political relations between the countries, with mutual trade standing only at $361,000. However steps are being taken to intensify efforts in countering new challenges and threats, to establish cooperation in trade in defense-related products.

The president’s schedule also includes a meeting with Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. The two leaders are expected to discuss the current state of and the prospects for bilateral cooperation in the trade-and-economic, military technical and humanitarian spheres and to outline ways to expand cooperation. The Russian president’s aide drew attention to the fact that Russia and Thailand will mark the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.

Later in the day, the Russian president will meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss the implementation of previous agreements on expanding cooperation in the trade-and-economic, investment, military, military technical and humanitarian areas.

Apart from that, Putin’s plans for May 19 include talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The agenda, according to Ushakov, will include closer trade-and-economic cooperation, implementation of investment projects in the energy sector, expansion of military technical cooperation and humanitarian ties.

The Russian president will also meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc who has been on his official first visit to Russia since May 16. Ushakov said the two leaders plan to exchange exchange views on the current state of and prospects for the development of Russian-Vietnamese relations and strategic partnership. Priority attention will be focused on trade-and-economic ties as Vietnam ranks first among the ASEAN nations in terms of trade with Russia.

The series of Putin’s bilateral contacts will be rounded off with meetings with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulit. Laos is the current president in the ASEAN and the coordinator of the Associations’ relations with Russia. The two countries marked 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Economic relations between the countries however are lagging behind their political dialogue. Thus, bilateral trade decreased by 58% in 2015 to $16.5 million. The bilateral intergovernmental commission on trade-and-economic and scientific-and-technical cooperation is tasked to improve trade indices.

The Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) includes Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. The ASEAN countries measuring 4.5 million square kilometers in area are home for 600,000 million people. Their overall gross domestic product is about $3.5 trillion, and it is expected to reach $4 trillion by 2020. ASEAN is getting ever more attractive to foreign capital. In 2014, foreign investment into ASEAN went up by 16% to above $136 billion.

A Russia-ASEAN summit is due to take place in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi on May 19-20. It is expected to be the biggest international forum in Russia in 2016. The summit will be held under the slogan "Towards Strategic Partnership for the Sake of the Common Good." The summit is expected to adopt a declaration that will lay the basis for an action plan of Russia-ASEAN cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres, as well as in the sphere of security.

Russia has been ASEAN’s dialogue partner of ASEAN since July 1996. Similar partnership summits are normally held on the territory of member-states and the choice of Sochi as venue for the Russia-ASEAN summit on the partnership’s 20th anniversary is symbolic.

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