Asean senior officials begin meeting ahead of 30th Leaders' Summit


MANILA: Senior officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have started meeting today to prepare for the 30th Leaders’ Summit that will take place in the Philippine capital this week.

Under the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”, this year’s Asean meetings coincide with the 50th anniversary of the regional grouping, and are expected to focus on closer cooperation and greater reforms to accelerate economic integration in the region.

Asean leaders, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is scheduled to arrive here tomorrow, will also likely discuss political and security issues in the region.

Local press reports indicate that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is hosting his first major regional meeting since taking office, is also hopeful of significant progress on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP has gained importance as a regional trade deal after the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was abandoned by US President Donald Trump soon after his election victory.

Asean members are Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In the local media today, Philippine Armed Forces chief Gen Eduardo Ano assured the public that the military and police are prepared against any terror and other disturbances during the summit.

It was reported that 40,000 security and emergency personnel have been deployed for the Asean meetings. Some flights have been cancelled from April 26 to 29, and the government has also imposed a no-fly and no-sail zone within the Manila Bay area during the period.