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Cambodia: World leaders head to ASEAN summits


PHNOM PENH, (Xinhua): Key world leaders including re- elected U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao along with estimated 1,700 foreign media persons are arriving for the ASEAN summits with the expectation of strengthening ties, officials said here on Friday.

The 21st Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related Summits will be held from Nov. 18-20 at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

The events will bring together all ASEAN leaders and ASEAN's dialogue country leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a notable absentee from the conference.

The host of world leaders is expected to discuss economic and political issues during the three days.

There will also be several agreements to be signed between the host country and China during Prime Minister Wen's visit, Cambodian government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told media.

ASEAN integration, economic and financial issues, regional security, among others, will be on top agenda in the forthcoming summit.

One of the main highlights of the meeting will undoubtedly be the adoption of a human rights declaration aimed at fighting torture and illegal arrests in a region notorious for violations, despite criticism that the pact falls short of international standards.

ASEAN leaders are scheduled to formally adopt the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on Sunday, according to Cambodian Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong. "This is the first time ASEAN has had this declaration and I think it is a good move," he told media here adding, "in the future in case it is necessary, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights can hold more meetings with civil society to improve the current declaration."

Signing the ASEAN Agreement on Movement of Natural Persons and the launch of negotiating for a comprehensive regional economic partnership will also take place.

The launching of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation together with ASEAN Regional Demining Centre will address common concerns among the members.

Global financial issues and pushing the agenda on ASEAN's connectivity goal to be a European Union-like bloc by 2015 will also top the agenda.

The large number of international media expected to cover the meeting is an indication of world attention. The Cambodian government has worked hard to provide the necessary infrastructure with banks of computers and tents prepared for the media.

Editor: Hou Qiang

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