Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Cooperation with dialogue partners and strategic partners is set to feature high on the agenda of the upcoming 21st Asean Summit and its related summits when it takes place this Sunday, November 18.
"If you look at the partners attending the Summit, you will realise that some of the most powerful world leaders are here," said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of Asean, as he was quoted in a recent press statement from the Asean Secretariat.
"Asean today is a collection of 10 robust, promising economies and closely-integrated political entity," he said, adding that it "has become increasingly interlinked as an economic bloc, and is attracting world attention as being centred in the 'new growth centre of the world.
The summit will be expecting leaders from the member states of Asean as well as East Asia and others, including US President Barack Obama, Chinese Permier Wen Jiabao, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak along with the leaders of Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand.
With the objective of Asean Community by 2015 less than three years away, the economy is set to feature high on the agenda - particularly in regard to narrowing the development gap between member states and economic integration.
The Asean leaders will also discuss global economy, trade exchange, security matters, human rights, environment and climate change, according to the press statement.
"Staff from the Asean Secretariat, officials from all government ministries in Cambodia, hotel staff in Phnom Penh, and thousands of Cambodians are all focused on one objective - everything must be ready for the meetings."
The latter is certainly visible in the way flags and banners can be seen lining the many streets of Phnom Penh, and when getting into a tuktuk and asking the driver to drop you off at the venue, Peace Palace, the common response is one that shows they know the summit, which they refer to as "meeting", is coming.
The Asean Summit, which begins on Sunday, November 18, will begin with an opening ceremony at the Peace Palace, where Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is expected to deliver an opening statement.
The opening ceremony is also expected to see the official launch of the Asean Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), which according to a report from Xinhua, was initiated by Indonesia and is aimed at reviewing Asean cooperation and contributing to the peace and reconciliation in the region.
Another highlight of the 21st Summit's first day will be a signing of the Asean Human Rights Declaration by the Asean leaders.
Among the highlights of the second day will be the Asean Plus Three Commemorative Summit, which will see the celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Asean Plus Three cooperation.
The 15th Asean-Japan and Asean-Republic of Korea Summits will also be taking place, along with the 10th Asean-India Summit and the 15th Asean-China Summit.
That Monday will also be the day for the 40 Asean-US Leaders' Meeting, before a Gala Dinner is hosted by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and spouse Bun Rany.
The final day of the Asean Summit on November 20 will see a momentous occasion, which will see a symbolic handover of the Asean Chairmanship from the Cambodian Prime Minister to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
A video presentation will then be shown on the 2013 Asean Chairmanship by Brunei.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin