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Ministerial Meeting
July 30, 2007

ASEAN approves former Thai FM as secretary general
The foreign ministers of the Association Southeast Asian Nations endorsed on July 30 former Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan as the new ASEAN secretary general, Kyodo news reported.

Surin, 57, will succeed Singapore's Ong Keng Yong who will end his five-year term at the end of this year.

He will be the first ASEAN secretary general to serve ASEAN under the ASEAN charter, a legal instrument aiming to transform ASEAN into a rules-based association.

Surin said earlier that ASEAN is a solid group and could get through difficulties and challenges for more than 40 years with its flexibility.

"For me, ASEAN is not only the 10-member association, but also the regional power for world powers...We have several forums for partners, especially the ASEAN Regional Forum, the security forum that many powerful countries attend and raise hot issues for discussion," he said.

On the ASEAN charter, Surin said it is the "right answer" if ASEAN is asked to deal with future challenges and pressure from outside. He suggested ASEAN accept differences among member states.

As Thai foreign minister, Surin launched the policy of "constructive engagement" to deal with Myanmar after ASEAN accepted Myanmar into the group in 1997 amid condemn from many countries about Myanmar's abysmal human rights and military rule. ASEAN, founded in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and the Philippines.

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