Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on April 3, 2012 for the annual ASEAN Summit dominated by agendas such as Myanmar’s historic reforms, North Korea’s planned rocket launch and strategic maritime disputes with China. ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said the vote should contribute to the “reintegration of Myanmar into the global community”.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -a grouping of nearly 600 million people from disparate economic and political systems. The bloc has often been dismissed as a talking shop but it has assumed new stra¬tegic importance in light of Washington’s foreign policy “pivot” to Asia and the economic rise of China in recent years.
The 20th ASEAN Summit also marked the 45th Anni-versary of ASEAN which has selected “ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny” as its theme for 2012.