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2 Aug, 2007 01:56

ASEAN forum draws to a close

Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have agreed to work out a plan to improve economic co-operation. Meanwhile, Russia is giving $US 500,000 to a newly-created Russia-ASEAN financial fund to help expand energy ties.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who attended the talks in the Philippines, has re-affirmed Russia's commitment to ASEAN and invited officials to Moscow for further discussion on regional and international issues.

He has also urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to expand the number of countries in its security forum.

Now ASEAN forum brings together ten member states and officials from 27 other countries, including Russia and the U.S.

On Thursday morning the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, the North Korean nuclear programme and Iran's nuclear ambitions are on the agenda of the ASEAN forum.

At the end of the discussions a joint statement is expected to be released.

Meanwhile, protestors objecting to U.S. involvement have been marching outside the conference venue.