Lavrov in Bali for Russia-ASEAN meetings

AFP Photo / Adek Berry
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in Bali, Indonesia where he will attend annual ASEAN events.

­Sergey Lavrov, together with foreign ministers from 27 countries, including the US, China, Japan and the EU are meeting in Bali for the 18th ASEAN Summit from July 21-23.

Lavrov will also participate in the Russia-ASEAN summit, and for the first time ever the Russian side will be present at a ministerial meeting organized within the framework of East Asian summits as a full-fledged member.

The minister's official program begins on July 22.

"We've traveled a great distance over the years: we’ve elevated our relations to the highest level," the ministry emphasized.

"Contacts between Russian agencies…and ASEAN structures have become more intensive. A 'road map' for trade, economic and investment cooperation is being drafted. A working program of energy cooperation for 2010-2015 is being implemented," the Foreign Minister went on to say.

The Russian and ASEAN ministers will discuss preparations for the annual high-level ASEAN events that will be held in Bali on November 17-19 this year.

"Russia considers the East Asian Summits to be a vital factor in forming a comprehensive, balanced and open architecture of the Asia-Pacific region which is commeasurable to contemporary security challenges," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"East Asian Summits can objectively claim to play the role of a leading arena for the strategic dialogue for leaders on regional security.”

"Involvement in the integration processes that are unfolding in the region will help maximize the potential of the association by ASEAN member states in their cooperation with China, the United States, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as further develop Russia's economy and social recovery in Siberia and the Far East," the Russian Foreign Ministry concluded.

One of the main topics of discussion during this year’s meeting will focus on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Diplomats from all six countries involved in the negotiations — Russia, the United States, China, Japan and North and South Korea — will be in attendance. Thus, there will be a chance for informal, sideline talks between the foreign ministers from North and South Korea, which has seen a precipitous decline in mutual relations since Pyongyang attacked a South Korean island in November, 2010. Observers have indicated, however, that the time might be ripe for an agreement to be reached given North Korea’s dismal economic conditions.

Founded on August 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the ASEAN went on to eventually include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. On its official website, the ASEAN describes itself as an organization dedicated to “economic growth, social progress and cultural development,” as well as the security of the region.

ASEAN accounts for approximately 600 million people, or almost 9 percent of the world’s population.

The meeting of Russian and ASEAN foreign ministers is taking place in the year which marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue and partnership, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The Russian Federation became a full Dialogue Partner of ASEAN in July 1996, which works to promote “trade and investment, science and technology, environment, tourism, human resources development and people-to-people interaction,” as outlined on the ASEAN website.

Robert Bridge, RT