The 12th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) opened in Cebu, Philippines Saturday morning.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is chairing the summit, greeted leaders of other ASEAN member countries at thegate of the meeting hall at the Shangri-la Hotel Mactan. Then the leaders, all dressed in white Philippine national costumes, posed for a group photo on a lawn outside the meeting hall.
Speaking at the opening of the summit, Arroyo said the Philippines is proud to be hosting the ASEAN Summit at such an important time. At the time when the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks is faltering, ASEAN wants to stand up and proclaim its support for keeping the doors of global trade open.
And there is concern about nuclear proliferation, the leaders of the ASEAN member countries stood firm in their commitment on the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula, she added.
And finally, ASEAN is committed to expanding its trade area to create one of the world's greatest trading blocks, Arroyo said. "So I believe the future of ASEAN is bright indeed."
The annual summit of the grouping, which is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, was originally slated for December 2006, but was suspended abruptly, citing "adverse weather disturbance."
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao left Beijing on Saturday afternoon for the city of Cebu to attend a series of meetings and pay an official visit at the invitation of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The meetings include the tenth ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) plus Three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) summit, the tenth China-ASEAN summit, and the second East Asian regional summit.
Wen will also chair the seventh annual meeting of leaders of China, Japan and the ROK.
(Xinhua News Agency January 13, 2007)