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Southeast Asian Leaders Tackle Trade, Security


The leaders of Japan, China and South Korea take up trade and security concerns as they meet with their Southeast Asian counterparts in the Philippines. VOA's Heda Bayron reports from the city of Cebu, where the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is holding its annual gathering.

The talks Sunday bring together the leaders of ASEAN's biggest trading partners - Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo underscored the importance of engaging the region's powers to reach ASEAN's goal of a free trade area and eventually a common market.

"It's vitally important at this time in world events that ASEAN is bringing so many nations and leaders together to discuss peace, security, and social justice and economic growth," said Arroyo.

North Korea is also on the agenda, with the three East Asian powers meeting separately to discuss ways to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.