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ASEAN Foreign Ministers To Plan Summit With AM-Philippines Shultz, Bjt

June 21, 1986

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will open talks Monday on economic problems and plans for the first ASEAN summit meeting in a decade.

After discussing internal ASEAN matters, the ministers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are to meet on economic issues with representatives from ASEAN’s major trading partners, including the United States.

Senior officials of the ASEAN countries were working Saturday on a final agenda and their position for meetings with Secretary of State George P. Shultz and the foreign ministers of Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the European Common Market..

The talks with Shultz and the other ″dialogue partners,″ are expected to be dominated by concerns over rising protectionism. The ASEAN members would like to have the United States and other industrialized countries open up their markets to the region’s goods.

Foreign Minister Salvador Laurel of the Philippinees is to preside over the weeklong meetings. It will be the first major international conference in the Philippines since the civilian-military revolt deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos in February and installed Corazon Aquino as president. Mrs. Aquino is to open the meetings.

Conference sources said the ASEAN ministers’ talks will include a proposed summit in 1987. It would be the first summit since 1977 and the third since ASEAN’s formation in 1967.

There were several attempts to hold a summit of heads of government earlier. One reason they failed was the refusal by Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed Mahathir and his predecessors to step on Philippine soil unless the Manila government dropped its claim to the east Malaysian state of Sabah.

Under an unwritten rule, ASEAN meetings are to be held alternately in the member countries in alphabetical order, and the Philippines was in line to be the next host.

Although the Sabah question remains unsolved, Malaysia softened its position under pressure from other ASEAN governments.

In addition to the Sabah question, which Mrs. Aquino’s government has said it is determined to settle, there was the attitude that a summit should not be held unless there were guarantees the leaders would reach firm agreements in the economic and political fields.

″That’s gone now,″ said one source, speaking on condition of anonymity. ″How will the rest of the world believe we are a serious regional association if we don’t hold even one summit in ten years?″

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