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South-east Asian leaders' summit opens in Cambodia

Published on Nov 18, 2012 11:01 AM
A member of go-vernment security holds his weapon at the VIP section of Phnom Penh airport as delegations arrive for the 21st Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations) and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh Nov 17, 2012. Southeast Asian leaders began their annual summit on Sunday in the Cambodian capital, with the day of talks expected to focus on maritime territorial rows and ethnic unrest in Myanmar. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - South-east Asian leaders began annual talks on Sunday that were set to focus on bruising territorial rows, a controversial declaration on human rights and deadly ethnic unrest in Myanmar.

The Asean summit was being held following months of acrimony within the 10-member bloc over how to handle disputes with China over rival claims in the South China Sea.

The maritime tensions were expected to be high on the agenda at the summit in Cambodia, as well as during two days of expanded talks starting on Monday that will include United States President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said the bloc was ready to present a united front to China over the issue, after proposing on Saturday a hotline with its giant Asian neighbour aimed at defusing tensions.

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