Asean leaders’ summit opens in Manila

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Manila, April 29 (IANS) Southeast Asia leaders gathered here on Saturday to exchange views on how to further strengthen and make the 50-year-old Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) relevant amid challenges confronting the world.

“Guided by our chairmanship theme – Partnering for Change, Engaging the World – we are drawn today to reaffirm our aspiration for an Asean that works to effect positive change in the lives of our peoples,” Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said at the opening of the day-long summit.

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

Duterte will chair the 30th Asean summit plenary and the retreat of the 10 leaders that are taking place on Saturday.

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On the political and security front, Duterte cited traditional and non-traditional security issues that test Asean’s resolve to promote peace, stability, security and prosperity in the region.

“Geopolitical and strategic developments around the globe also pose a challenge to our shared interests and goals, if not the security of our environment,” he said.

He also stressed the need to aim for a drug-free Asean.

The Asean leaders are currently exchanging views on pressing regional and international issues, including cooperation in maritime security, building a people-oriented and people-centred organisation, maintaining a peaceful and stable region, advancing inclusive and innovative-led growth and promoting its resiliency.

Duterte is also expected to issue a chairman’s statement on the 30th summit at the close of their meeting later on Saturday.

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