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43rd ASEAN Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting emphasizes unity, inclusiveness

The 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related summits kicked off in Jakarta on Tuesday, with a focus on establishing the region as an epicentre of economic growth.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, whose country is holding the rotating ASEAN chair this year, urged the regional bloc to stay united and not be a proxy to any power.

“Don’t make our ship, ASEAN, become an arena of rivalry that causes damages to each other. Make our ship the foundation to build cooperation and create prosperity, stability and peace, not only for the region but also for the world,” he said.

During the next three days, leaders of ASEAN member nations are expected to discuss issues that would chart the future of the bloc as a community and an institution.

This includes steps to speed up the decision-making in crises and emergencies, as well as steps to bolster ASEAN’s capacity to respond to emerging challenges in the region.

The summit under Indonesia’s ASEAN chairmanship this year is themed “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”.

In the past decade, ASEAN’s average annual growth reached 3.98 per cent, above the global economic growth of 2.6 per cent, according to official data.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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