Asean foreign ministers meet
Asean senior officials met on Monday to lay the groundwork before the 44th Asean Ministerial Meeting, which opens on Tuesday in the resort island of Bali.
One of the agenda items is to review Asean's efforts so far in realising a single community. It seems progress has not been fast enough.
Asean has just four years left, and time is not on its side.
Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan, said: "The implementation has to be faster...I have been trying to encourage every member state that we do not stop at the ratification of the agreements, we will have to go down to the actual implementation. So, in the end...how do you translate what has been agreed at the regional level, down to the national implementation."
Dr. Surin said he wants to do more to put pressure on member states to speed up Asean's integration process.
During the meetings, Asean foreign ministers are also expected to touch on security issues in the region. These include the border spat between Thailand and Cambodia, as well as disputes in the South China Sea.
Parts of the South China Sea contain some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and are believed to be rich in oil and gas. They are being claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Dr. Surin said: "There is also a sense of urgency that we need to send out the right signals...to the world that Asean and China can manage our differences, because this issue has been an issue of high anxiety, not only for us in the region, in East Asia, but also in the global community."
The meeting of Asean foreign ministers is expected to bring the regional grouping and China a step closer to finalising a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
In Bali, Asean foreign ministers will also be meeting their dialogue partners, as well as take part in the East Asia Summit (EAS), and the Asean Regional Forum (ARF).
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