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 21 Mar 2008

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Half of the ten member-nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have ratified the regional association's first common legal and institutional framework as Vietnam joined Singapore, Brunei, Laos and Malaysia whose ratifications were already sent in to the Asean Secretariat.
"The ratification shows Vietnamese Government's strong commitment to accelerate regional integration," the country’s Foreign Ministry's Asean Department director Nguyen Hong Cuong was quoted by Vietnam News Agency as saying March 19.

Last November at the Singapore summit, Asean heads of government signed the landmark charter, the first in the group's 40-year history, to give it a legal identity as it prepares to create an Asean Community by 2015.

Singapore took the lead and became the first member to ratify the Asean Charter, barely seven weeks after it was signed by the group's leaders. Other members, including Thailand, have not indicated when their ratification will come.

While Asean leaders pledged to expedite ratification within 12 months, in time for the next summit in Bangkok, doubts arose after the Philippines Congress threatened not to ratify it unless democracy is restored in military-ruled Myanmar, an Asean member. The charter will be effective after all 10 members have endorsed it.




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