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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) opened its 28th and 29th summits here Tuesday in the Lao capital, with the theme of "Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community."
At the opening ceremony, Thongloun Sisoulith, Lao prime minister and ASEAN's rotating chair, called on member states to make sustained and concerted efforts in implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the three Community Blueprints so as to advance ASEAN Community.
"In this spirit, the Lao PDR has adopted the theme 'Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community' for its 2016 ASEAN Chairmanship," he said, adding that his country has identified eight priorities covering the three pillars of the ASEAN Community.
Thongloun said the eight priorities will be translated into various frameworks and documents, such as the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III.
ASEAN, the sixth largest economy in the world, has become a region of peace and stability, providing favorable conditions for sustainable regional economic development, he noted.
Thongloun added that while ASEAN has continued to strengthen internal cooperation, the bloc will also strive to expand relations with external partners.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Lao President Bounnhang Vorachith highlighted the achievements of ASEAN over almost five decades, particularly the announcement of the ASEAN Community on Dec. 31, 2015.
The president also urged the 10-country bloc to enhance cooperation and collaboration with the international community so as to address challenges such as terrorism and extremism, natural disasters, climate change and migration crisis.
Following the opening ceremony, the 28th ASEAN summit started while the 29th summit is to be held on Wednesday.
During the 28th summit, ASEAN Leaders adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. The master plan, which succeeds the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2010, focuses on five strategic areas: sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence and people mobility.
The document said that ASEAN needs at least 110 billion U.S. dollars of infrastructure investment each year to support future growth. On people mobility, it said the number of tourists from outside ASEAN could reach 150 million by 2025.
The leaders also adopted the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III. The five-year work plan, an integral part of the ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, aims to narrow the development gap, enhance the region's competitiveness and support the implementation of the three Community Blueprints which ASEAN leaders adopted in November last year.
Apart from the ASEAN summits, related leaders' meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, namely the ASEAN+1 Summits, Summit on Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, ASEAN+3 (China, Japan and South Korea) Summit, and the East Asia Summit. ASEAN member countries will discuss cooperation with their dialogue partners at these meetings.