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ASEAN officials gather in Cambodia in preparation for next month’s summits

PHNOM PENH, March 4 (Xinhua) — The ASEAN senior officials in charge of the bloc’s economic, security and socio-cultural communities met here on Sunday in order to prepare agendas and documents for the 20th ASEAN Summit and related Summits on April 3- 4. Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Soeung Rathchavy, a secretary of state at Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, reaffirmed that as the 2012 ASEAN chair, Cambodia would do all its best to ensure that the ASEAN leaders’ summits and other related summits this year would be conducted successfully. “I strongly believe that 2012’s ASEAN summits and related summits will bring about strategic and political significance as well as concrete and successful outcomes which will further contribute to the ASEAN process towards the realization of ASEAN community by 2015,” she said. She added that Cambodia would continue encouraging the greater participation of the ASEAN people and seeking more active support from dialogue partners and other interested parties in achieving hard and soft infrastructure connectivity within ASEAN, whilst continue pursuing further toward East Asia connectivity.

According to the agendas, during the three-day joint preparatory meeting and related meetings, the ASEAN senior officials would discuss and prepare documents in the economic, security and socio-cultural communities for the next month’s ASEAN Summit and related Summits. In the economic community, they would update the progress in the cooperation in human resources development, recognition of professional qualifications, closer consultation on macroeconomic and financial policies, trade financing measures, enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity, aiming at transforming ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital by 2015.

For the security community, the officials would debate documents on the regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea ( COC) and Thailand’s views on the regional Code of Conduct of the parties in the South China Sea, the establishment of an ASEAN Institute for Peace and Recommendation, the protocol to the treaty on the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, and ASEAN Maritime Security.

On the socio-cultural community, they would arrange a number of documents including Concept Paper on Small and Medium-Size Cultural Enterprises, ASEAN Regional Festival of Arts and Culture on Building ASEAN Community of Caring Society, Concept Paper on ASEAN TV Channel, the issues of migrant workers, drug, climate change, education, heath, disaster management, women and children, and people with disabilities. They also talked about Cambodia’s initiative for the establishment of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community’s Fund and ASEAN Cultural Events in Cambodia.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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