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December 4, 2008

14th Asean Summit:
Foreign ministers to meet in Jakarta

Foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nation are set to meet in Indonesia in mid-December following recent political unrest in Thailand, which led to the postponement of an Asean summit that was to take place there this month, Kyodo news agency quoted Indonesia's Foreign Ministry as saying Wednesday.

"We have noted that Thailand, as the current chairman of Asean, has tabled a proposal to all Asean member states about holding the meetings of the foreign ministers in the (Asean) Secretariat in Jakarta," the ministry's spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told Kyodo News.

"Normally, all members will respond by giving their approval to the proposal," he added.

Faizasyah said the Asean Secretariat would cooperate with Indonesia to facilitate the meeting, which would be chaired by Thailand.

On Monday, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono offered to host some Asean meetings, including those of Asean foreign and finance ministers, considering the situation in Thailand, which is currently Asean 's chair country.

On Tuesday, Thailand said it was postponing the Asean summit meeting that has been scheduled to take place in Chiang Mai in mid-December.

Faizasyah said Indonesia is working to arrange a possible meeting of Asean finance ministers in Bali among themselves and with their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said yesterday Thailand has made the right decision to push back the Asean summit for another three months.

"This was not an easy decision to make and I thank Thailand for weighing carefully all the factors before deciding to postpone the summit," Mr Surin said in a statement.

Singapore urged that the summit be held sooner.

"While Singapore understands why the summit has to be postponed, it should not be delayed more than absolutely necessary," Singapore's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"With the global financial crisis affecting all countries in Asean, the summit should be rescheduled to the earliest possible date, preferably in January, rather than later in March," it added.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had underlined the importance of meeting to officially introduce the new Asean Charter, which aims to set up a political, economic and social bloc of half a billion people, and is due to come into force on Dec 15.

It was also important to discuss a pool of currency swap lines called the Chiang Mai Initiative, he said.

Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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