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Leaders confirm attendance at Laos ASEM

VIENTIANE -- Five Asian leaders have said they will attend the ninth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Vientiane on Nov. 5-6, state media reports said Monday.

Prime Ministers Hun Sen of Cambodia, Lee Hsein Hoong of Singapore, Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand, Nguyen Tan Dung of Thailand and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have all confirmed their decision to attend.

The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso “have also signaled their intention to attend,” the state-run newspaper reported, citing foreign ministry sources.

European attendance has historically been less high than that from Asia at the previous eight summits.

The prime minister of Portugal has also indicated an intention to come, and senior officials from Paris said the “president or prime minister will attend the meeting,” the government mouthpiece added.

ASEM was launched in Bangkok in 1996 to further economic, political and cultural ties between Europe and Asia. Summits are held every two years, alternating between European and Asian capitals.

The summit will be the largest international event ever staged by Laos, a land-locked communist country half the size of France with a population of about six million.

ASEM counts 48 members, including the European Commission, the 27 members of the European Union, 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, Australia, Russia, New Zealand and the ASEAN Secretariat.

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