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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        8 January 2011

Indonesia assumes Asean chairmanship

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Human rights issues and protection of migrant workers will be among the main priorities for Asean during Indonesia's chairmanship this year.

Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Dr. Marty Natalegawa, said Jakarta will push to consolidate and intensify cooperation among member states.

Dr. Marty laid out Jakarta's three key areas as Asean chair during his annual foreign policy statement in the capital.

Indonesia's leadership in Asean will be in the spotlight, as it assumes the grouping's chair from Vietnam this year.

And Indonesia's Foreign Minister is expected to be busier than usual. In his annual foreign policy statement, Dr Marty pledged there will be significant progress this year, towards achieving an ASEAN Community by 2015.

Human rights is an area which Jakarta is keen to see improvements.

Dr. Marty said: "Indonesia hopes that in 2011, the Asean Human Rights Commission will be more effective in fulfilling its mandate. This will be a reflection of ASEAN member countries' commitment to respecting human rights."

Maritime border issues and protection of migrant workers are other areas in which Jakarta seeks greater cooperation.

As chair of the grouping, Jakarta is expected to push for the completion of the draft on the Asean framework on Migrant Workers' Protection.

Negotiations have stalled after member countries failed to agree on common standards.

Dr. Marty said Jakarta will also ensure that ASEAN continues to play a central role in regional architecture building, such as the East Asia Summit.

As host, Indonesia will see the US and Russia formally joining the forum this year.

Dr. Marty said: "Indonesia believes the East Asia Summit can be a main forum for leaders of state and governments to discuss strategic issues - be it regional or global."

Beyond the region, Indonesia has also set its sights for the 10-member group to play a greater role in world affairs post-2015.

Dr. Marty said: "An Asean Common Platform on Global Issues cannot be achieved speedily. It needs vision, a blueprint and roadmap that are accurate towards Asean's role and position that is more cohesive in facing global issues."

He said Jakarta would soon start discussions on the Common Global Platform with member countries.

Indonesia's theme for its chairmanship, "Asean Community in a Global Community of Nations", has received enthusiastic response. With its international legitimacy, many believe Indonesia can draw the world's attention and support to the Asean Community which is targeted for completion by 2015.

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