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STANDARD NEWS (10/12/95)

   By Peter Eng of The Associated Press
	   BANGKOK, AP - For the first time, the leaders of all 10 
Southeast Asian nations gather later this week with visions of a 
region free of nuclear weapons, abuzz with trade, and unified in 
searching for economic prosperity.
	   Just a few years ago, Southeast Asia was divided by politics and 
economics into three blocs: the anti-communist Association of 
Southeast Asian Nations, communist Indochina, and isolationist 
	   But with the Cold War over, the leaders of Burma, Cambodia and 
Laos are meeting for the first time together with the heads of the 
seven ASEAN nations - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, 
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, which joined ASEAN in July.
	   All the outcasts now know that ASEAN offers international 
respectability, political clout, and perhaps most importantly, 
participation in one of the world's most remarkable economic booms.
	   In a recent survey by the weekly magazine Far Eastern Economic 
Review, most business executives said ASEAN offered better 
prospects for 1996 than any other region.
	   It will be the fifth ASEAN summit since the group was founded in 
1967. The leaders meet on Thursday and Friday (December 14 and 15), 
following talks among senior officials.
	   They will focus on economics and politics, but this time also 
will discuss cooperation in new "social" fields, including 
environmental protection, education, and drug abuse and trafficking 
	   The centrepiece of the summit is the signing of the Southeast 
Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone treaty, which took 10 years to 
prepare. That will extend ASEAN's involvement in framing post-Cold 
War regional security, following its first regional security talks 
in 1994.
	   High on the agenda will be speeding the way for the three 
outsiders to join ASEAN by the turn of the century. This is "a 
strategic development because this is what we have wanted all 
along", said Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas.
	   Some people concerned about Burma's human rights record say 
ASEAN is embracing its military government too quickly.
	   Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans says ASEAN should 
pressure Burma's government to start a dialogue with pro-democracy 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
	   To press for talks, Suu Kyi's party has just pulled out of a 
government-controlled constitutional convention.
	   Perhaps to forestall any incidents during the summit, Thai 
police recently have been arresting Burmese dissidents exiled in 
	   Burma is not the only country destabilised by government 
repression of dissidents. That is happening in Cambodia, 2 1/2 
years after a UN-organised election that ASEAN strongly supported.
	   Recent violent incidents involving fishermen from Thailand, 
Burma and Malaysia are evidence that all is not rosy among 
Southeast Asian nations. Vietnam, poor and in an awkward transition 
to a market economy, already has missed deadlines for ASEAN's 
tariff reduction plans.
	   The nuclear-free zone treaty prohibits the possession, 
manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons.
	   It does allow the passage of foreign warships without requiring 
them to state if they are carrying nuclear weapons.
	   None of the Southeast Asian nations is anywhere near capable of 
producing nuclear weapons. They expect the five declared nuclear 
powers - the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China - to 
accede to the treaty's protocol.
	   Philippine Senator Juan Ponce Enrile recently was quoted as 
cautioning that the treaty is not clear on what is and is not 
allowed, and might constrain the United States from helping the 
Philippines in case of an attack.
	   ASEAN leaders are expected to reaffirm their commitment to 
establishing an ASEAN Free Trade Area by 2003 by reducing import 
tariffs to five per cent at most.
	   They also will consider proposals to include in the free trade 
area intellectual property rights and trade in services, including 
finance, telecommunications, transportation, and business services. 
It now covers only manufacturing and agricultural products.
	   Driving these proposals is the realisation that global 
competition is heating up, with challenges from India, China, the 
European Union, and the United States.
	   The summit will endorse a plan, reached last month, for 
cooperation in attracting investment into the region.
	   "Before, each country spoke about their own opportunities. The 
emphasis of this plan is to inform the world of the attractiveness 
of ASEAN as a region," said Melito Salazar, vice chairman of the 
Philippine Board of Investment.
	   Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah wants the deadline for free 
trade advanced to 2000. Indonesia opposes that, and even wants to 
withdraw agricultural goods from the agreement. Agricultural 
Minister Baharsyah Syarifuddin said 26 agricultural commodities are 
grown mainly by small farmers, and they must be protected.
	   Australia, along with New Zealand, Canada, European Community, 
Japan, South Korea and the United States, has the official status 
of dialogue partner with ASEAN.
	   AP gr