Asian Nations, Partners Meet at Annual Regional ForumBy VOA News
24 July 2008

Disaster relief and border conflicts top the agenda at Thursday's meeting of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum in Singapore.

The annual meeting brings together the 10 ASEAN member nations and its 17 partner nations, including the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the European Union.

The diplomats have drafted an agreement that allows for cooperation between the member states in responding to a natural disaster, including military assets. The accord was drafted in the wake of two deadly regional disasters in May - a massive earthquake in southwest China, and Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma's Irrawaddy delta.

They will also address the standoff between Thai and Cambodian armed forces on a disputed area along their shared border.

In a separate development, North Korea will sign a non-aggression pact with ASEAN during the forum.

On Wednesday, foreign ministers from the six nations involved in North Korean nuclear disarmament talks met on the sidelines of the forum.

voa news