PM Lee and Asean counterparts in Brunei this week for leaders' summit

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be in Brunei on Wednesday and Thursday to attend the 22nd Asean Summit, at which leaders of the 10-nation grouping aim for progress on economic integration and a united front on the South China Sea issue.

The Asean leaders will discuss the progress in efforts to establish an Asean Community by 2015, and take stock of the implementation of the Asean Charter. They will also discuss Asean's role in the regional architecture, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

This summit takes place amidst tension in the South China Sea over overlapping territorial claims by China and four Asean member states. Asean has drafted a Code of Conduct and hopes China will agree to start formal talks on it.

On the economic front, Asean has set a deadline of 2015 for achieving the goal of a single market.

Negotiations on a new, multilateral free trade area are also due to start next month. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership aims to bring Asean's existing free trade agreements with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, India and South Korea, into a single agreement.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K Shanmugam and senior officials will accompany Mr Lee.

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