Bangkok, July 23
Security issues and economy are at the top of the agenda for the ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that kicks off on Saturday in Laos.
Foreign ministers from the ten countries comprising the regional bloc are expected to meet in the city of Vientiane to discuss the process of integration for the Asean economic community launched this year.
The regional bloc comprises of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, will also participate along with the Asean ministers and their counterparts from China, India, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Union on Monday.
On Tuesday, the ministers will meet for the Asean Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit, the first of which will focus on security issues and the latter on economic topics.
The meeting in Laos is expected to also take up the contentious issue of the South China Sea and the recent decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to reject the historical arguments of China claiming parts of the region to the detriment of the other claimants including Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The Court also failed to recognise exclusive economic zones and accused China of not preventing the ecological damage caused by Chinese fishing vessels in the area.