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Asean Summit will see region’s leaders discuss ways to take grouping forward

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times) -- Singapore will be in the spotlight as leaders of all 10 Asean members gather for the 33rd Asean Summit and several related meetings at the Suntec Singapore Convention Centre next week.
The summits, which mark the final milestone of Singapore’s chairmanship of Asean, will be chaired by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The leaders are expected to adopt the Asean Smart Cities Framework, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement on Saturday (Nov 10).
The framework covers the setting up of a network of smart cities in the region. Its initial 26 members include Bangkok, Cebu City and Yangon, and will tap technology and work with partners to improve public services and economic opportunities for residents, among others.
The leaders will also take stock of Asean’s achievements this year in strengthening the grouping’s resilience and innovation - two key themes of Singapore’s chairmanship - and discuss how to take Asean forward at a time of geopolitical and economic change, the PMO said.

Asean leaders will gather for the 33rd Asean Summit in Singapore, which marks the final milestone of Singapore’s chairmanship of Asean.   --Photo Lianhe Zaobao

Asean, which marked its 50th anniversary last year, has generally held two summits a year over the past decade.
The first, usually in the middle of the year, sees leaders of all 10 members meet to discuss key concerns among themselves.
The second, at the end of the year, sees the grouping joined by its key partners from outside the region, to discuss their ties with the grouping at separate meetings.
Asean and its eight key partners will also gather at the East Asia Summit, to discuss regional cooperation across a range of issues, from the environment to cyber security.
Other issues that could be raised are the resettlement of Rohingya refugees and ways to build trust in the region, so that disputes over trade or territory do not end in blows.
Against the backdrop of US-China trade tensions and rising protectionism globally, a key concern for many leaders is the need to underline their commitment to lowering trade barriers and integrating regional economies closer together.
Hence hopes are high that further headway can be made to conclude negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal involving Asean and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. Progress on the RCEP will be discussed at Wednesday’s RCEP Summit.
The opening ceremony of the Asean Summit will take place on Tuesday, followed by a dinner among Asean leaders.
On Wednesday, Asean leaders meet new Australian PM Scott Morrison for an informal breakfast summit.
They will then meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Asean-China Summit, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Asean-Korea Summit.
PM Lee then hosts a working lunch for Asean leaders and guests - Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.
Asean leaders will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asean-Russia Summit, followed by Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at the Asean-Japan Summit.
A slew of regional and global issues will be discussed at these various meetings, including how links between Asean and the respective countries can be strengthened.
Leaders of countries negotiating the RCEP will then meet among themselves at the RCEP Summit, before a gala dinner hosted by PM Lee. The final day of the summit, Thursday, will be its busiest.
Asean leaders will gather for the Asean-India informal breakfast summit with PM Narendra Modi, before meeting United States Vice-President Mike Pence at the Asean-US Summit.
They then gather at the Asean Plus Three Summit with Mr Li, Mr Abe and Mr Moon, before joining Mr Modi, Mr Morrison, Mr Pence and Mr Putin, as well as New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, at the East Asia Summit.
Capping the meetings is the closing ceremony on Thursday, which will see PM Lee hand over the Asean chairmanship to Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

(Latest Update November 12, 2018)

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