Asean leaders address post-coronavirus recovery during annual summit

Bangkok, Oct 27 (EFE).- Southeast Asian leaders Wednesday stressed on the need to accelerate economic recovery post-pandemic on the second day of the their annual summit also attended by the United States, China and Japan.

Brunei is the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the 38th summit was held virtually due to travel restrictions prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, the bloc chairperson, said during the bilateral meeting between Asean and Japan leaders the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen collaboration on health, security, and trade.

In a statement, Bolkiah thanked Tokyo for its shipment of Covid-19 vaccines and other health assistance during the pandemic for the region.

Asean also held a bilateral meeting with Australia chaired by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, who called for a strengthening of economic ties.

The Thai leader said the free trade agreement between Asean, Australia, and New Zealand should be updated and complementary to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP, signed in 2020, brings together several countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand.

Asean has already held bilateral meetings with China and the United States.

It is also holding the East Asia summit to address security and trade related issues on Wednesday.

In addition to the ASEAN members, the United States, China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand will also take part in the meeting.

Myanmar has been the notable absentee from the summit that concludes on Thursday due to the reluctance of the military junta to implement the agreement reached with Asean in April to resolve the crisis in the country following the Feb.1 coup.

Asean asked the Myanmar government to send a non-political representative in place of the junta’s leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, but Naypyitaw has chosen not to participate instead.

Asean, founded in 1967, comprises of Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. EFE


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