Mon, Oct 30, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Leaders gather on eve of ASEAN summit talks


Southeast Asian leaders gathered in China yesterday on the eve of a summit to mark the 15th anniversary of formal dialogue between China and ASEAN.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) will hold bilateral meetings with each of the ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the summit in Nanning, the Chinese government said.

The aim of the summit is to "sum up ... bilateral friendship relations and draw up the future development course of China-ASEAN relations," the government said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) all held bilateral talks with Chinese officials in different areas in China before yesterday.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win and Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh arrived in Nanning later yesterday.

Leaders of the remaining three ASEAN member states are scheduled to attend the summit today, and most of the region's leaders plan to also attend the third China-ASEAN Expo tomorrow.

Yudhoyono and Chinese Vice Prime Minister Huang Ju (黃菊) attended a signing ceremony for an accord on energy and mining cooperation in Shanghai on Saturday.

China signed its first free-trade area (FTA) agreement with ASEAN, agreeing to build an FTA by 2010. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) said negotiations had "progressed smoothly."

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