Soaring food prices on menu at ASEAN summit

The rising cost of basic food products has been the focus of this year’s ASEAN summit in Singapore. The Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has been representing Russia at the meeting. High oil prices and North Korea’s nuclear disarmament were also discussed

Particular attention was paid to joint efforts to defeat international terrorism and international crime. Energy issues, science, technology, tourism, culture and cooperation in preventing disasters were also on a full agenda.

Lavrov met his U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice during the summit. He called on Washington to clarify its plans for missile defence in Europe. Russia says the missile defence system, which is to be placed near its western borders, threatens its security.

The situation in Georgia’s breakaway republics, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, was also discussed. Lavrov said that the first thing the region needs is a ceasefire treaty and only then would it be possible to discuss any other initiatives, such as Nato’s involvement or the re-integration of Georgia.

Moscow and Washington remain divided over Georgia’s possible membership of Nato. Russia supports the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where many of the citizens hold Russian passports.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also held talks with North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun. This meeting was the highest-level contact between the Bush administration and a communist state in four years. Rice urged North Korea to accept terms to verify the dismantling of its nuclear weapons programme.

Pyongyang has been handed a four-page document by the U.S. explaining what it must do in order to prove to Washington it’s been telling the truth about ending its nuclear research.

Russia is giving $US 500,000 to the Russia-ASEAN dialogue partnership financial foundation. Together with last year's contribution, the fund has $US 1 million to spend on joint projects.

To watch Sergey Lavrov's statement on the results of ASEN summit in Singapore, please follow the link.