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17th ASEAN Summit slated from Oct. 28 to 30

President Benigno S. Aquino III and the other nine leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will gather here on Thursday for the 17th ASEAN Summit slated from Oct. 28 to 30.

This year’s summit theme is “Towards the ASEAN Community: From Vision to Action.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs said major topics at the meeting include accelerating ASEAN Community building process, implementing ASEAN Charter, broadening ASEAN cooperation with dialogue partners and strengthening cooperation to respond to global challenges.

The ASEAN aims to establish an ASEAN Community by 2015. As the deadline approaches, ASEAN countries are stepping up efforts in the integration process of the ASEAN region, which had a total population of 584 million and a combined GDP of $ 1.5 trillion.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the President is expected to input some Philippine initiatives during the meetings.

The 10 leaders will discuss a new master plan for enhancing ties and building new infrastructure that will allow ASEAN to compete with rising economies. The Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity, which the leaders are expected to adopt, will anchor the region’s bold and long-term strategy to improve its physical, institutional and people-to-people connection.

The concept of ASEAN connectivity was proposed by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva last year as ASEAN Chair.

A key element of the annual ASEAN leaders meeting is their dialogue with partners from the East Asia Summit umbrella. This year, the East Asia Summit in Hanoi is expected to take on added importance with the inclusion of the United States and Russia as members of the East Asia summit dialogue process.

Both the U.S. Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister have been invited.

The first ASEAN-Australia Summit, which will also be held here will be hosted by Australia’s new Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit will likewise be held to mark the 35th anniversary of friendship between ASEAN and New Zealand.

In addition, ASEAN leaders will hold talks with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for the third time.

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