ASEAN leaders open regional summit in Laos capital

29th ASEAN Summit enters day 2 in Laos

The leaders of the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who have gathered for the 29th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, have agreed to improve the bloc’s cooperation with its strategic partners, including China, the United States, Japan and South Korea.

In a press statement issued by the summit organizers on Wednesday, the ASEAN leaders spoke about the organization’s “future direction while maintaining ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture.”

“The ASEAN leaders had a candid exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and concerns,” the statement read.

It said the regional bloc discussed issues pertaining to terrorism and religious extremism, climate change and natural disasters, human trafficking, migration and transnational crimes.

The ASEAN leaders also spoke about territorial disputes and maritime security.

Several special meetings have been scheduled during the summit as well, including the ASEAN Plus China Summit, and the ASEAN Plus China, Japan, South Korea Summit.

During the ASEAN Plus China meeting, countries will review the developments in their relations with China in the past 25 years.

ASEAN leaders pose for a picture during the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 7, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The two sides will then sign two joint statements on future cooperation.

As for the ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea meeting, the participating countries will review ways to seek greater contribution in regional and international developments.

Other meetings will also be held between ASEAN countries and other regional players, including Australia, India and New Zealand, as well as, global players, including Russia and the United States.

ASEAN is a regional organization that consists of 10 Southeast Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.

The organization seeks to promote cooperation amongst its member nations in various politico-economic fields.

However, the 29th summit is expected to be overshadowed by territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Most of the group’s member states have overlapping claims to the waters, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Earlier in July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague ruled that China’s claims to sovereignty over the disputed areas in the sea or its resources “had no legal basis,” in a case brought by the Philippines.

Beijing, however, rejected the verdict, arguing that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in the dispute.

By Press TV