The 21st ASEAN Summit opened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on November 18 with member country leaders taking part.

Themed “One Community, One Destiny” the three-day Summit and related meetings are expected to tackle such issues as ASEAN community building, regional security and peace, as well as strengthening cooperation between bloc partners.

Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, said the event recognises ASEAN’s major achievements over the past 45 years, especially recent efforts in building a common community.

Hun Sen, who is also Chair of ASEAN, urged members to adopt a comprehensive and cooperative approach, particularly regional collaboration, in an attempt to further accelerate the pace of ASEAN community building, strengthen ASEAN's external relations and enhance its role and position in the international arena.

“Realising the ASEAN Community by 2015 should remain our top priority,” he stressed. He encouraged ASEAN ministers to boost cooperation in addressing regional and global challenges like the economic and financial crisis, climate change, natural resource depletion and pandemics.

The ASEAN Institute of Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) made its debut at the event. Initiated by Indonesia and funded by ASEAN member nations, AIPR was established in an effort to further promote peace, security and reconciliation in the region.

At the plenary session following the opening ceremony, participants discussed priority issues like community building, enhancing regional connectivity and narrowing the development gap.

The regional leaders also appointed Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister, Le Luong Minh, as ASEAN Secretary General for the 2013-17 tenure.

Addressing the plenary session, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said, with joint effort the goal of building the ASEAN community by 2015 is materialising, however, a lot of challenges remain ahead.

Late on the day, ASEAN member states’ leaders hold a closed-door session and sign the Phnom Penh Statement approving the ASEAN Statement on Human Rights.-VNA