Sultan in Pattaya for summit
By MK Anwar

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday arrived in Pattaya, Thailand to attend the 14th Asean Summit with dialogue partners.

His Majesty was greeted upon arrival at the U-Tapao International Airport by Korbsak Sabhavasu, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand; Sayumphon Limthai, Governor of Rayong Province; and Admiral Soopakorn Booranadiloak, the Commander of the Royal Thai Navy.

Also in attendance were Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dato Paduka Hj Kamis bin Hj Tamin, Ambassador of Brunei to Thailand as well as officials from the Embassy of Brunei in Bangkok.

In the evening, His Majesty together with other Asean leaders attended the informal Working Dinner at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya.

His Majesty later received the new Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak in audience.

His Majesty and the Malaysian PM exchanged views on the relations between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia. Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the existing ties and friendship between the two countries, and discussed ways to further strengthen cooperation in various fields and other areas of mutual interest.

Today, leaders of the 10-member Asean will meet their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea for the Asean+3 Summit.

They will on Sunday join leaders of Australia, India and New Zealand under the East Asia Summit.

The ASEAN+3 Summit and the East Asia Summit will also issue separate statements on the global economic and financial crisis (Asean+3 and EAS), as well as on food security and bio-energy development (Asean+3), and on disaster management (EAS).

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon is also expected to attend the Asean-UN Summit to discuss regional and international issues, as well as other issues of mutual interest such as climate change and Millennium Development Goals.

Carrying the theme "Acting Together to Cope with Global Challenges", the summit and its related meetings are expected to focus on efforts in facing the current global economic and financial crisis.

Sixteen Asian nations will step up investigations into establishing a giant free-trade zone stretching from China to Australia, according to documents obtained by AFP.

The documents, to be issued during a weekend summit, said that 16 Asian leaders will throw their support behind efforts to deepen and expand trade ties and reject protectionist measures.

A draft of the statement to be issued at the end of Saturday's talks said leaders will ask their economic ministers to "explore ways and means to increase regional trade".

The leaders said an East Asia-wide free-trade zone - covering Asean as well as China, Japan and South Korea - would enhance the free flow of goods, people and capital.

"In this regard, they tasked the economic ministers to submit the final report of the second phase feasibility study" into the pan-Asia trade zone during their next summit in October, the document said.

The study is aimed at establishing how the region's existing web of free-trade agreements can be linked together into a more comprehensive region-wide pact.

Free trade and a rejection of protectionism is also a major plank in the leaders' statement to be issued on Sunday by the larger 16-nation grouping.

A draft of that document said the leaders will agree to further open up their markets and look forward to seeing their ministers' recommendations on the pan-Asia free-trade zone during the October talks.

"As a further sign of their commitment they pledged to minimise the trade-distorting impact of their fiscal stimulus measures and industry support policies," it said.

The leaders will also support a US$120 billion emergency fund aimed at helping countries fight speculative attacks on their currencies and prevent a destabilisation of the financial system, the statements said. - Borneo Bulletin (11th Apr 2009)