Asean`s centrality maintained , says Yudhoyono

Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said ASEAN has been able to maintain its centrality and the grouping`s dialog partners continue to respect the sovereignty of its 10 member countries.

"I am now sure that ASEAN has a significant role to play and been able to maintain its centrality," Yudhoyono said at a press conference after the close of the 19th ASEAN Summit here on Saturday.

He said looking at the history of its regional architecture, ASEAN which was formed in 1967, was now a truly historically-tested regional organization.

During its journey, ASEAN had developed into a safe and peaceful region enjoying sound economic growth.

Cooperation between ASEAN and its dialog partners , namely China, Japan and South Korea (collectively referred to as ASEAN+3), and other nations such as the United states and Russia, had been a significant factor ASEAN`s development.

But its dialog partners had never dictated ASEAN`s agendas and always respected its centrality, he said.

Earlier on Saturday, at the closing ceremony of the 19th ASEAN Summit at Bali`s Nusa Dua Convention Center, Indonesia officially handed its position as the ASEAN chair to Cambodia.

The transfer of the ASEAN chairmanship from Indonesia to Cambodia was marked symbolically by President Yudhoyono handing a gavel to President Hun Sen.

The 19th ASEAN Summit and related summits were held in Nusa Dua November 13-19. Among the issues discussed during the events were Myanmar`s bid to be chairman of ASEAN in 2014, a Declaration of Conduct (DoC) for claimant countries in the South China Sea, progress in negotiations between ASEAN and nuclear weapon states (P5) about their accession to the South East Asia Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) and Timor Leste`s ASEAN membership application.

In the Bali summit, the ASEAN leaders also signed the Bali Declaration which would be the basis for regional cooperation after ASEAN had become a single community in 2015.(*)

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