NAY PYI TAW (Myanmar), May 11 – Asean leaders begin their biannual gathering at the capital of Myanmar on Sunday to discuss on the future of Asean Community, external relations and the future direction of Asean. Summit chairman U Thein Sein led leaders from nine other countries and Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh to a customary group photo before ushering them to the 24th Asean Summit and other related meetings that take place.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is leading the Malaysian delegation to the summit, where Malaysia plans to lay the foundation for the creation of the Asean Community post-2015 vision while enhancing and solidifying the Asean spirit of cooperation and solidarity. This meeting is important for Malaysia, which will take over as Asean chairman next year, coinciding with the formation of the Asean Community.

With only a year to go before the Asean integration goal, the leaders are also expected to make their interventions of the Progress of Implementation of the Roadmap for Asean Community, Initiative of Asean Integration Work Plan II and Master Plan on Asean Connectivity. Asean leaders attending the summit include Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thamavong, Philippines President Benigno Aquino, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Thailand is represented by Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana. Themed, “Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community”, leaders are expected to adopt several key document during the summit which includes the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration and terms of reference of the Asean Secretary-General as the Asean Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator.

The leaders are also to take note of five documents, namely, the reports of the Asean Political Security Community Council, the Asean Economic Community Council, the Asean Social and Cultural Community Council, the Secretary General of Asean on the 24th Asean Summit on the Work of Asean and Executive Director of the Asean Foundation. Myanmar has chairmanship of the Asean Summit for the first time this year after joining the regional grouping in 1997. Formed in 1967, Asean or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.