ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kicked off their 19th summit in Bali on Thursday (November 17) which is set to discuss Myanmar, maritime territorial disputes and other regional issues.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is hosting the meeting, said ASEAN needed to increase its ability to resolve conflicts, in his opening remarks.
ASEAN has often been dismissed as a talking shop, given its policy of consensus and non-interference in members' internal affairs.
The ASEAN summit comes just after the U.S. warned claimants in the South China Sea territorial dispute not to resort to intimidation to push their cause in the potentially oil-rich waters, in an indirect reference to China, who is due to attend the meeting.
This year, the meeting which brings together the 10 member countries, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, will be expanded to include U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The leaders of Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand will also join the talks on Friday (November 18).
Critics say the inclusion of non-ASEAN leaders in the regional forum takes the focus away from regional issues.