PM Lee off to KL for Asean Summit, related meetings

Key topics expected to be addressed include terrorism, maritime issues in South China Sea

Malaysian police officers on patrol yesterday near the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, the venue for the 27th Asean Summit.
Malaysian police officers on patrol yesterday near the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, the venue for the 27th Asean Summit. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is set to arrive here today for the 27th Asean Summit and related meetings, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

The summit, which begins tomorrow, will be attended by leaders of all 10 Asean member countries. They will take stock of the progress made towards a more integrated region - economically speaking as well as with regard to political, security and socio-cultural areas.

The summit comes ahead of a major milestone for the regional grouping: the establishment of an Asean Community on Dec 31 this year.

As a prelude to that, the leaders this weekend will sign the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the Asean Community.

It aims to give greater impetus for officials in the region to work towards further lowering trade barriers and encouraging the flow of skilled labour across borders, albeit subject to countries' manpower needs and laws.

The leaders will also set broad directions for a post-2015 vision for Asean and sign the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Asean 2025: For-ging Ahead Together. In addition, they will sign the Asean Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

The leaders will also exchange views on regional and international developments. Key topics are expected to include the threat of extremist terrorism and maritime issues in the South China Sea.

Also joining the Asean leaders in Kuala Lumpur are leaders from eight countries with close partnerships with the grouping - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

Asean leaders will engage their counterparts at several meetings, and all 18 leaders will meet at the 10th East Asia Summit (EAS).

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told reporters that there will likely be EAS statements on enhancing regional maritime cooperation, countering violent extremism and enhancing regional health security on communicable diseases, among other things.

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet PM Lee as well as several Asean leaders, Mr Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice said.

An Asean-New Zealand Commemorative Summit will also be held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of relations between Asean and New Zealand.

In addition, leaders will meet the East Asia Business Council as well as the Asean Business Advisory Council.

PM Lee will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Ministry of Foreign Affairs senior officials. Mrs Lee will also accompany him on the the visit.

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean will be Acting Prime Minister during the period of Mr Lee's absence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2015, with the headline 'PM Lee off to KL for Asean Summit, related meetings'. Print Edition | Subscribe