Leaders of 16 Asian countries have opened a summit in Thailand for talks focusing on economic cooperation, disaster management and climate change.

The East Asia Summit on Sunday follows a two-day meeting of leaders from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The expanded talks include China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

The 16 leaders represent almost half the world’s population and more than a third of the global GDP, according to Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Southeast Asian leaders on Saturday called on Myanmar to conduct free and fair elections next year but activists criticized the bloc for failing to take a tough stand against one of the world’s worst human rights offenders.


India grants market economy status to VietnamOctober 25, 2009