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42nd ASEAN Summit opens, highlighting ASEAN centrality, economic growth

LABUAN BAJO, Indonesia, May 10 (Xinhua) -- The 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) officially kicked off in the town of Labuan Bajo in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday.

Leaders of ASEAN member countries are expected to discuss strengthening ASEAN centrality, economic growth, and food and energy security among other issues during the biannual meeting.

Meanwhile, the Summit is expected to produce a roadmap for Timor-Leste's full membership. Last November, ASEAN agreed in principle to admit Timor-Leste as its 11th member. Timor-Leste's Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak is also present at the Summit as an observer.

This year, the Summit under Indonesia's ASEAN chairmanship is themed "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth." Indonesia has expressed hope that the bloc will remain a center of regional and global growth, focusing on efforts to make ASEAN a fast-growing, inclusive, and sustainable economic region in the long term.

The Asian Development Bank forecast in early April that developing Asia's gross domestic product will grow by 4.8 percent this year and in 2024, up from 4.2 percent in 2022, noting growth in the Asia-Pacific region remains resilient.

For the Summit, Indonesia has prepared a grand vision of ASEAN 2045 as well as a discussion process on the draft ASEAN Leaders Declaration to strengthen ASEAN's institutional capacity and effectiveness, according to foreign ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah on Monday last week.

The ASEAN, founded in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.