East Asia Summit to agree on creating permanent secretariat

Member countries of the East Asia Summit are likely to agree at a meeting scheduled Sunday in Malaysia to create a permanent secretariat of the regional organisation in a move led by Japan, sources said.

Creation of the permanent secretariat aims to accelerate the formulation of security regulations in the region, with China's maritime advances in mind, through enhancing functions of the EAS.

Its creation will be incorporated into a joint declaration to be adopted at the upcoming EAS meeting. The secretariat will be set up within the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta, and the relevant countries will hold discussions to decide when it should be established, according to the sources.

The envisaged secretariat is expected to organise EAS meetings, check whether member countries keep agreements reached at the summit meetings, and measure their progress.

In the EAS chairman's statement last year, member countries agreed to take measures to prevent terrorism, and stressed freedom of navigation and the significance of solving disputes peacefully.

The Japanese government thinks that the EAS, with 18 member countries, will have a larger role in the future as a forum to discuss politics and security, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe having advocated that it "should be developed further.