E.Asian bloc to invite Russia, US to join: draft

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Russia and the United States will be formally invited to join a key regional East Asian dialogue next week, a draft communique obtained Thursday says.

Diplomats say the move aims to counterbalance the influence of China, which is a rapidly growing economic and military force in the region.

The draft chairman's statement from the East Asia Summit (EAS) says members welcomed the interest of Russia and the United States to engage more closely with the region.

EAS "formally decided to invite the leaders of Russia and the US to participate in the EAS starting from 2011," it says.

The invitation is expected to be issued to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when EAS presidents and prime ministers meet on October 30 in the Vietnamese capital.

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev would then be expected to participate next year.

EAS, established in 2005, is a forum for dialogue on strategic, political and economic issues involving the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

© 2010 AFP

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