Sunday, January 14, 2007

ASEAN to draft EU-style charter

By Carlos H. Conde
Published: January 13, 2007

CEBU, Philippines: The leaders of the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations approved several agreements on Saturday considered by many here to be remarkable in their scope and visionary in their ambition.

Among the agreements approved on Saturday, the first day of the meeting of the heads of state in this central Philippine province, were the drafting of a new charter that seeks to integrate Southeast Asia much like the European Union, establish a free-trade zone by 2015, intensify the war on terrorism, protect the region's migrant workers, and improve the campaign against HIV/AIDS.

"We want to advance the sense of community in our shared interest to look after each other in terms of justice, economic development and common security," President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines said during her speech at the formal opening of the summit meeting of the association, which goes by the acronym Asean.
Arroyo gave particular emphasis on Asean's drive to expand trade, "to create one of the world's greatest trading blocs."

"I believe the future of Asean is bright indeed," Arroyo said.

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