ASEAN summit kicks off in Laos

World Today

Najib Razak, Aung San Suu Kyi, Lee Hsien Loong, Prayuth Chan-ocha, Tran Dai Quang, Bounnhang Vorachith, Thongloun Sisoulith, Rodrigo Duterte, Hassanal Bolkiah, Hun Sen, Joko WidodoSoutheast Asian leaders link arms at the opening of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and other related summits in the National Convention Center Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 in Vientiane, Laos. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off Tuesday in Vientiane, Laos.

At the opening ceremony, Thongloun Sisoulith, prime minister of Laos and ASEAN’s rotating chair called on member states to make sustained and concerted efforts in implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the three Community Blueprints.

“In this spirit, the Lao PDR has adopted the theme ‘Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community’ for its 2016 ASEAN Chairmanship,” he said, adding that his country has identified eight priorities covering the three pillars of the ASEAN Community.

Thongloun said the eight priorities will be translated into various frameworks and documents, such as Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III and ASEAN Trade Facilitation Framework.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Thongloun also mentioned that while ASEAN has continued to strengthen its internal cooperation, the bloc will strive to expand relations with its external partners.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived late Tuesday in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, setting in motion his first official visit to the country, where he will also attend the East Asian Summit.

Upon his arrival at the airport, Li said in a written speech that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue between China and ASEAN, noting that bilateral ties have reached a new historical starting point.

This year also coincides with the 55th anniversary of the establishment of China-Laos diplomatic ties.

Li said Beijing wants to take the anniversary as an opportunity to work with Vientiane in deepening their traditional friendship, mutually-beneficial cooperation, as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges in a bid to push forward the two neighbors’ comprehensive strategic partnership.

Spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry Hua Chunying said the Chinese side stands ready to work with ASEAN to hold a successful summit and to build a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.

According to Hua, both sides have maintained frequent high-level exchanges, cemented political mutual trust and witnessed growing trade.

ASEAN, the sixth largest economy in the world, has become a region of peace and stability, providing favorable conditions for sustainable regional economic development, he noted.

Following the opening ceremony, the 28th and 29th ASEAN summits will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Story by Xinhua.