ASEAN SECRETARY-GENERAL TO PAY AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO MOSCOW

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MOSCOW, October 1, (RIA Novosti) - Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, will pay an official visit to Russia on October 1-3, Alexander Yakovenko, an official Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, told RIA Novosti.

He is scheduled to meet with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and to talk with Deputy Minister Alexander Alexeyev, as well as to see top officials from the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications, Roskultura and Rossport. Apart from that, it is planned to hold a round table with Russian businessmen.

The spokesman indicated that expansion of all-round cooperation with the Association has been an invariable priority of Russia's eastern policy. "We regard ASEAN as one of the principal poles of influence in the Asia-Pacific region, as the 'nucleus' of regional integration processes, a kind of field of attraction both for Asian and non-regional states," he said.

The special emphasis in the course of negotiations is to be placed on Russian-ASEAN coordination of efforts in the struggle against international terrorism, the spokesman noted.

Yet another subject of negotiations will be the 1976 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in South East Asia (Bali Treaty), which Russia plans to join at the end of November. "An appropriate official ceremony will take place on November 29 of this year and will be timed to coincide with the 10th ASEAN summit in Vientiane (Laos)," Yakovenko said.

Attention will also be focused on activation of trade and economic ties between Russia and ASEAN. The sides are preparing to sign an agreement on trade and economic cooperation. "We are set to conclude it in the course of ASEAN activities at the level of foreign ministers in Laos in the summer of 2005," Yakovenko said.

The negotiations will also deal with cooperation in such priority fields asscience, education, culture and tourism, the spokesman pointed out. "In view of plans to create a 'single tourist ASEAN space', it would be worthwhile, by proceeding from advance preparations on a bilateral basis, to go over to coordinating efforts in this sector in a Russia-ASEAN format," he believes.

One of the most promising directions of cooperation, according to Yakovenko, is science and advanced technologies. "ASEAN states may be interested in Russian equipment and ideas to prevent and eliminate the consequences of natural disasters," the spokesman said.

The Association of South East Asian Nations was formed on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok. Its current members are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

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