Leaders of Southeast Asian nations held a second day of discussions on
political and economic issues at a summit in Thailand in efforts to
form a regional economic bloc by 2015.
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Saturday that the nations
in the region should take advantage of their faster recovery from the
recession compared to the West to become the world's leading economic
But he said Japan wants the United States to play a role in a new
regional bloc. He said Tokyo's alliance with Washington is one of the
fundamentals of Japan's foreign policy.
A spokesman for the Japanese delegation at the summit (Kazuo Kodama) said the prime minister supports a Southeast Asian community open to co-operation with other regions.
The new regional bloc could include the 10-members of ASEAN and
regional partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New
ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
In a statement Saturday, ASEAN leaders called on military-ruled Burma
to hold free and fair elections by 2010, and urged North Korea to
comply with international obligations on nuclear disarmament.
The statement did not mention Burma's harsh treatment of pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Thailand' Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said
a special mention was not necessary because the detained opposition
leader and the United States had already initiated a dialog with
Burmese military leaders.
On the sidelines of the summit, leaders met for a series of bilateral
talks aimed at resolving disputes over tariffs, border conflicts and
other bilateral issues.