Senior ASEAN officials gather in Malaysia ahead of leaders' summit (dpa German Press Agency) | Lao Tribune

Senior ASEAN officials gather in Malaysia ahead of leaders' summit (dpa German Press Agency)

Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – Senior South-East Asian officials addressed mutual issues on Saturday such as conflict with China over maritime claims ahead of their annual regional summit amid beefed-up security at the venue in Malaysia’s economic capital.

The summit of the 10-nation Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) starting Sunday also comes amid struggles to address the weakness in the global economy ahead of the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community later in the year.

The plan is aimed at pursuing a single market for the region that has more than 500 million inhabitants.

Police increased security in Kuala Lumpur, deploying 2,000 officers.

Muhammad Fuad Abu Zarim, chief of the internal security and public order department, said police dogs have also been deployed near the meeting venue.

Earlier in the month, police detained 17 people, allegedly supportive of the Islamic State’s extremist agenda, who were suspected of plotting to launch terrorist attacks in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said ASEAN leaders were expected to issue a declaration emphasizing the role of the group “in maintaining and promoting stability, harmony and prosperity in the region.”

ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.