Asian Leaders in Myanmar for ASEAN Summit

ASEAN leaders (L-R) Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Myanmar President Thein Sein, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia President Joko Widodo and Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong during the opening ceremony of the 25th ASEAN Summit in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 12 November 2014. EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

By Cod Satrusayang

NAYPYIDAW (DPA) – Leaders gathered in Myanmar's capital Wednesday for the Association of South-East Asian Nations summit, with the focus expected to be on economic ties and regional territorial disputes.

Myanmar President U Thein Sein opened the summit with a call for greater integration for the 10-nation bloc, while also praising members for realizing plans for the ASEAN Economic Community.

A meeting backed the Naypyidaw Declaration made earlier this year which pledged to "intensify our efforts in realising the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015."

The reaffirmed declaration also outlined plans for a more integrated community after 2015 as well as the promotion of peace and democracy within the region. 

ASEAN leaders also recognized the seriousness of the situation in the South China Sea and vowed to find a peaceful solution to the territorial disputes. 

The meeting closed proceedings by adopting measures to strengthen the ASEAN Secretariat and issued a joint statement promising to combat climate change. 

In his opening remarks, Thein Sein also welcomed two new leaders among the group: recently elected Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took power in bloodless coup in May.

"I am fully confident that your leadership will not only bring greater peace, stability and prosperity to your peoples but also contribute to further enhance ASEAN integration," he said.

Thein Sein also said ASEAN must do more "promoting and protecting social justice and the rights of women, children and the elderly in our societies."

In a bilateral meeting between Myanmar and Indonesia, Thein Sein and Joko pledged to increase the trade volume between the two nations from 498 million dollars to 1 billion dollars per year by 2016. 

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

US President Barack Obama is attending the summit, following his appearance at a meeting for Pacific Rim countries in Beijing, as is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The ASEAN meetings will also include leaders from South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.

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