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Friday, December 23, 2011

Pitsuwan: ASEAN Members Look Forward to Cambodia’s Chairmanship

Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, says Cambodia can rely on the support and cooperation of its neighbors as it prepares to take over the chairmanship of the regional bloc at the end of the month.

Analysts say Phnom Penh will have to juggle a variety of challenges, including ASEAN's efforts at forming an economic union by 2015 and disputes between several ASEAN members and China over the South China Sea. Cambodia must also manage its own border dispute with Thailand.

But Pitsuwan told VOA's Khmer service after a meeting this week with Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong that Cambodia can set an example for the rest of the world.

“A lot of hope is being pinned upon the chairmanship of Cambodia because we're only three years into the community 2015 and most of the global community is looking at us with Cambodia as the chair of how ASEAN is going to conduct our business, our affairs as we move into the community in the year 2015.”

Pitsuwan added that other members of the 10-nation bloc have expressed their confidence that the bloc will prosper under Cambodia's chairmanship.

“All members of ASEAN and all the dialogue partners have full confidence that Cambodia is going to chair ASEAN with great success and all of them pledge support through me, through the Secretariat that they will do everything necessary that Cambodia wants cooperation and support and coordination from them. They're ready to help to support and to cooperate with Cambodia as chair of ASEAN because they know that ASEAN is the most successful regional organization in the world today.”

Cambodia will take over the chairmanship from Indonesia, which used the office to help relieve tensions over the South China Sea and the Thai-Cambodian border during the past year.

The group recently agreed to permit Burma to serve as chairman in 2014.

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