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ASEAN senior officials discussed the idea of an East Asian summit Saturday and agreed that the nation grouping should be the primary force if such a framework is established, Indonesian foreign ministry official Makarim Wibisono told reporters.
Wibisono disclosed that Malaysia had offered to host a future East Asian summit, adding that China and South Korea have also endorsed the idea.
One Filipino official, who refused to be named, said that some ASEAN members had initially expressed reservations at the proposed summit. We need to be more solidified first as a grouping. But if that happens, we need to be in the driver's seat," the official said.
There have been suggestions that a more formal East Asian Summit would replace this framework. It was the first time that a top official had given a possible timeline for the proposed summit. That suggested Asia's major maritime centers could take the new code in stride.
However, a security expert warned a key test remained to come in the United States, where Coast Guard officials have warned they will apply the new rules rigorously. Forty-one vessels arrived at the city-state's port in the first ten hours after midnight, and all had presented the correct documentation, the MPA said.
Port facilities, owners of ships larger than tons and the companies that unload them must make detailed plans to prepare for terrorist threats under the code, which is backed by the U. Ships must have a security officer, alarm system, automatic identification system and a method of checking IDs of people who board.
They must also restrict access to the engine room and bridge. Vessels could be turned away at port if they don't have a certificate signed by their flag nation that states their compliance with the treaty.
The rules were drafted after the September 11, attacks in the United States. Their performance give a vital sense of whether the new regime will trigger widespread disruption -- as some had feared -- as noncompliant ships are detained, delayed or turned away.
The IMO said late Wednesday that Richardson said most major shipping lines and large ports were believed to have already met the new guidelines, but many smaller players had yet to comply.
In Batam, Indonesia -- one of those second-line facilities -- portmaster Sudirman Purwo told The Associated Press the port was not yet compliant but hoped to be ready within two months. Between 20 to 30 cargo ships call at Batam daily, offloading cargo to Singapore, Japanese, Korean and American owned manufacturing interests taking advantage of the country's low labor costs.
These ships have to pass through the Malacca Straits -- the vital trade route that links the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In the meantime, we have beefed up our own security forces to secure the port area," Sudirman said.
Coast Guard has said it would strictly enforce the new rules from Thursday in U.
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