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Southeast Asian Leaders Announce East Asia Summit During Meeting In Laos - 2004-11-29


Southeast Asian leaders say they will hold an East Asia summit next year to study the creation of an economic community with some of Asia's largest economies.

Laotian Prime Minister Boungnang Vorachit opened the summit Monday, saying the challenges of globalization underscore the need to increase cooperation within the region: "The prime minister announced that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year will hold an East Asia summit including China, Japan and South Korea, with an eye toward creating an East Asian economic community."

The leaders signed an accord with China to create the world's largest free-trade area. Negotiations on other free-trade areas are already underway or about to start with several major Asia-Pacific nations.

ASEAN leaders also agreed to increase cooperation on security, and to accelerate the elimination of tariffs in major sectors.

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