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ASEAN entry set for July

ASEAN entry set for July

INDONESIAN Foreign Minister Ali Alatas has told Cambodia's leaders that the country

will be admitted to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in July, a

top Cambodian official said during the Indonesian President's visit.

"It is confirmed. We will be the Asean member in July," co-Minister of

the Council of Ministers Sok An told reporters after a meeting with Alatas, Indonesian

president Suharto and Cambodian co-Premiers Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen.

Sok An said Alatas gave the co-premiers the news in a briefing on the Asean-European

Union meeting in Singapore last week.

The announcement appears to indicate two other would-be members, Laos and Burma,

would be admitted in July as the grouping celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Alatas later told the press that Indonesia and other Asean nations wanted to see

Cambodia join the regional body in July but would not confirm that it would be admitted

this year.

He noted that Asean leaders had decided in November that the three nations would

be admitted simultaneously to the group where Brunei, Indonesia Malaysia, the Philippines,

Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are gathered. They gave no date for entry.

"We hope that if the process is finalized before our July meeting of foreign

ministers... [But] I cannot go ahead of the process. I have to state that as of now

that process is going on and we hope we can soon accept Cambodia," Alatas said,

adding that a formal decision must come from all the heads of state and government

of the group.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Ung Huot said he believed Cambodia was ready to join,

saying "Cambodia is confident that we will fulfill our requirements."

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