The Straits Times
Published on Nov 18, 2012

South-east Asian leaders' summit opens in Cambodia


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.