The Straits Times
Published on Nov 18, 2012

South-east Asia's leaders to meet amid tensions


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

The Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) summit is being held following months of acrimony within the 10-member bloc over how to handle disputes with China over competing claims to the strategically vital South China Sea.

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

After South-east Asian foreign ministers met in Phnom Penh on Saturday to prepare for their leaders' events, Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said the bloc was determined to lower the diplomatic temperature with China. "Both sides, all sides, are committed to communicate... to the global community that things are under control. We have differences but we can manage," Mr Surin told reporters.