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ASEAN Nations Plus Six Gather to Discuss Free Trade - 2004-11-28


Southeast Asian nations are meeting in Laos Monday and Tuesday to work on free trade agreements, with the goal of creating a European Union-style trade group by 2010.

The ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have sent representatives to the meeting, along with six other nations: China, India, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.

Participants are expected to adopt more than 20 agreements during their two-day summit, including accords on trade, security, and resolution of regional disputes.

Two controversial issues are not on the official agenda: the stalled political reform process in Burma, and unrest in Thailand's Muslim-dominated south. Burma and Thailand say such discussion would amount to meddling in their internal affairs.

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