ASEAN foreign ministers meet ahead of leaders’ summit in Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – Foreign ministers of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday met to finalize preparations for the leaders’ summit, where territorial disputes in the South China Sea was expected to dominate the agenda.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said leaders of the 10-country regional grouping were also going to tackle economic issues, such as the launching of the ASEAN single market at the end of the year, as well as trade partnerships with neighbouring countries.

During the the two-day summit on Saturday and Sunday the ASEAN leaders were also expected to tackle the problem of human trafficking and climate change, as well as women’s empowerment, Anifah added.

ASEAN leaders were also to meet separately with leaders of the United States, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, Japan and India, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Anifah said.

US President Barack Obama, who was due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur later in the day, was expected to pressure China over extensive land reclamation and construction in disputed areas in the South China Sea.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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