Indonesia, Asean sign host country agreement

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty M. Natalegawa and Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan signed an agreement between the Indonesian Government and Asean on Hosting and Granting Privileges and Immunities to the Jakarta-based Asean Secretariat, on the sidelines of the Asean ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh on Monday.

"We really appreciate the commitment made by the government of the Republic of Indonesia. In this regard, we are pleased with the conclusion and signing of this important agreement," Surin Pitsuwan said following the signing, as reported on the Asean Secretariat official website.

The Host Country Agreement sends an important message to the world about the importance placed on Asean by its member states. The agreement is evidence of the important role played by the Indonesian government in hosting and facilitating the work of Asean and the Asean Secretariat, Surin said.

"This is, indeed, a momentous occasion that reflects the importance of Asean and the commitment that Indonesia and other Asean Member States attach to the work of Asean," Marty stated.

The signing was witnessed by nine Asean foreign ministers, permanent representatives to Asean, SOM leaders, delegates, and Asean Secretariat officers who attended the 20th Asean Summit, the Asean Secretariat said in a statement.

The Host Country Agreement is the key legal instrument that embodies Indonesia`s continuing commitment and support to Asean, as host of the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta.

It sets out the duties and responsibilities of the parties as well as the privileges and immunities granted by the Indonesian government to Asean, including the Secretariat, to enable it to perform its functions and operations effectively.

With its entry into the Asean Charter in 2008, the Host Country Agreement replaces the previous one concluded in 1979 and has been reached after a series of discussions and consultations between Asean and Indonesia.