Monday, Oct 06, 2003
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India & World
By P. S. Suryanarayana
The heads of state or government are now expected to focus attention on the relatively new idea of an ASEAN security community as much on the ongoing moves for a comprehensive regional economic community as also a social and cultural community.
The overall objective is to integrate the member-states within a broad spectrum as a community, rather than as a mere association, by or perhaps even before 2020, according to regional diplomats and analysts.
A dominant theme on the eve of the summit was trade within the ASEAN and also between it and its chief partners in Asia China, Japan, South Korea and India.
As a result and also on account of some regional political conventions, the ASEAN officials indicated today that their leaders might prefer to play their collective card cautiously in nudging Mynamar, a member-state, to release Aug San Suu Kyi, the celebrated democracy campaigner in that country, from house arrest.
In adopting a cautious line, the ASEAN leaders would not actually turn soft in regard to this question after having followed a more proactive approach in recent weeks, it was said.
As host, Indonesia noted that the recent change in the status of Ms. Suu Kyi's detention to that of house arrest, from "protective custody" at undisclosed locations under the military's direct purview, was a matter of some progress towards her full freedom sooner rather than later.
Myanmar's new Prime Minister, Khin Nyunt, regarded as a relatively "moderate" military leader, was slated to attend the prospective summit.
Some of the agreements that the ASEAN is now planning to clinch or sign during its dialogue with the other Asian powers include a partnership with China on peace and security affairs, an economic cooperation deal with Japan in some form or other.
Both China and India are also expected to associate themselves with the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, according to officials.
On more than a symbolic level, the hosting of the summit itself in Bali, the scene of a devastating terrorist attack nearly a year ago, is seen as a message in political courage against terrorism.
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