Asean foreign ministers start regional meetings in Laos

Vientiane, July 24 (IANS) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) promised to continue efforts to advance peace, stability and development in the region as their foreign ministers gathered in Laos for regional meetings on Sunday.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member bloc for the 49th Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) were welcomed by Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who called for “frank and constructive discussions” between member states and partners, “contributing to the maintenance and promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world”, Xinhua news agency reported.

Thongloun identified a range of traditional and non-traditional security challenges, including extremism and terrorism, natural disasters and climate change, refugee issues and human trafficking as well as economic developments, including Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Chaired by Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith, the AMM comes following talks between the region’s senior officials and diplomats in Vientiane since Thursday as representatives seek progress on regional and international issues of common concern and interest.

The 10 foreign ministers of Asean are to be joined by those from dialogue partners, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as Japan’s Fumio Kishida and South Korea’s Yun Byung-se for associated talks that include the Asean Regional Forum and East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting.

Foreign Ministers and representatives from dialogue partners, including India, Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the EU, are also set to join forums to push forward respective relations with the 10-member Asean.

Associated meetings to be hosted in Vientiane include the 17th Asean plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (APT), the 6th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and 23rd Asean Regional Forum (ARF) as well as the meeting of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty Commission.

The AMM is one of the multi-sectoral meetings being hosted by Laos as per its 2016 Asean chairmanship, culminating in the heads of government East Asia Summit set for September 6-8 in Vientiane.

–IANS

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