East Asia Summit to include U.S., Russia

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has decided to expand the East Asia Summit (EAS) to include the United States and Russia. India is an EAS member.

The 16-nation EAS, “a leaders-driven forum,” now consists of all 10 ASEAN members and six of their “dialogue partners” — Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

ASEAN has also agreed to establish “connectivity” — its shorthand for “land, sea, air, electronic, and energy links” — with neighbours such as China and India. These decisions were announced by Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo on the sidelines of the ongoing ASEAN-led ministerial meetings in Hanoi. Singapore is one of ASEAN's founding-members, and India is among the participating dialogue partners.

Mr. Yeo said: “The ASEAN Coordinating Council [of ministers] will come to a formal decision and, at some point in time, make a recommendation to the [ASEAN] leaders to enlarge the EAS to include Russia and the United States.” By emphasising that “we are likely to stop there,” he indicated that there would be no further expansion.

The admission of the U.S. and Russia “will be achievable [by] next year.” Dialogue partners in the EAS such as China and India would also be “consulted.” And, the objective would be to keep an expanded EAS going as an “ASEAN-led” forum, “even though ASEAN is not strong compared to the big powers.”

Asked whether the U.S. and Russia would be invited to join the planned free trade area among the 16 EAS countries, Mr. Yeo said: “We have got to discuss. Russia is not a member of the World Trade Organisation, and the U.S. may not have an interest in a free trade agreement which involves ASEAN, China, Japan, Korea, and India.”

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 6:47:56 PM |

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