BANGKOK, October 9 (Itar-Tass) - The 23rd summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) opened in Brunei on Wednesday. It will be this year’s final meeting of the leaders of the organization’s member countries united by the desire to create a single economic, political and socio-cultural community by 2015.
Summing up the interim results of ASEAN countries’ integration two years ahead of the final date will be one of the main issues of the summit, which is mostly held behind closed doors. Such meetings with the participation of the heads of state under the ASEAN auspices are held twice a year. The current summit is the last this year. Its participants are expected to make a number of statements on the results of two days of the forum’s work.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand told Itar-Tass that among the final documents, the organization leaders will adopt a joint statement on the vision of the ASEAN Community after 2015, as well as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against children and women, on the strengthening of social protection of the population and the development of youth entrepreneurship, collaboration in disaster management, the development of food security. They are also expected to adopt a separate statement on the ASEAN-China strategic partnership that this year marks its 10th anniversary.
Simultaneously with the final summit the meetings with the partners in the dialogue ASEAN-China, ASEAN-Japan, ASEAN-Korea, ASEAN-India, ASEAN-US and a meeting in the ‘ASEAN plus three’ format (China, Japan, South Korea). On Thursday, the 8th East Asia Summit will be held.
One of the key topics for discussion in Brunei will be the territorial disputes of the Association members with China in the South China Sea. Many observers see the meeting in Brunei as the final round of negotiations on the creation of a separate legal instrument, which would clearly define the rules of conduct regarding the disputed territories. The ASEAN countries have been insisting on the creation of such a code for several years. However, China has been avoiding any concrete steps in this direction so far.