Cebu – Amid the guessing game of whether Australia and the United States will get invited to the inaugural East Asia Summit (EAS) in Kuala Lumpur, Asean has formally set out the conditions for countries which want to participate in the historic gathering.
The grouping's foreign ministers, who met in Cebu, Philippines, on April 11, agreed that Asean Plus 3 (China, Japan and South Korea) would be the main participants at the December summit. Other countries which want to take part in the summit must fulfill these three criteria: They must have substantive relations with Asean; have the status of full-dialogue partners; and have agreed to accede to Asean’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), which prohibits military aggression against each other.
“India obviously qualifies on all three counts and it will be included in the first EAS,” said Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo.
“We hope that Australia and New Zealand, which have not acceded to the TAC, will agree to the TAC in the coming months. If so, we would welcome them to the EAS in Kuala Lumpur,” he added.
The Asean foreign ministers will decide upon and formalise the membership of the first EAS during the Asean Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, in July.
Mr Yeo said the foreign ministers agreed that Asean alone will decide the future members of all subsequent summits. “This is to ensure that Asean remains in the driver’s seat of the EAS process,” he added.
* India included in summit on Asian bloc (The Straits Times, April 12)
* Asean spells out which countries may attend KL summit (The Star, April 12)