Asean officials gather ahead of regional summits in Laos

Vientiane, Sep 5 (IANS) Senior officials from across South-East Asia met in the Laos capital Vientiane Monday ahead of the arrival of regional and world leaders for the Asean 28th and 29th Summits, and 11th East Asia Summit staring from Tuesday to Thursday.

The agenda for Monday’s Senior Officials’ Preparatory Meeting (Prep-SOM) included discussion on final arrangements and draft documents ahead of the start of regional summits that involve participation of leaders of the 10-member bloc as well as those of dialogue partners, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, ministers of foreign affairs as well as commerce, trade and economic matters from South-East Asia are also meeting in the capital for related meetings, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (Asean) Business and Investment Summit 2016 being held from Monday to Wednesday and due to be opened by Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith Monday afternoon.

The meetings come as heads of state and government from the 10- member bloc are set to arrive in Vientiane Tuesday morning ahead of the commencement of the 28th Asean Summit.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be joined by leaders of fellow Asean dialogue partners, including Australia, India, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US.

Premier Li will also meet Asean state leaders, including host chair Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, in marking 25 years of dialogue partner relations at the 19th Asean-China Summit as well as joining leaders of fellow dialogue partner nations at the multilateral 11th East Asia Summit.

The Asean summits and related meetings are also seen as notable for the participation of US President Barack Obama, marking the first visit of an American leader to Laos.

–IANS

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