The 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers Meeting is being hosted by Singapore and will also see the first ASEAN-Turkey Trilateral Ministers' Meeting since Turkey became a sectoral dialogue partner in the association.
Scheduled for August 1-4, the four-day meeting will welcome 30 ministers from ASEAN member countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, as well as ASEAN dialogue partners the EU, the U.S., Canada, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand along with the association's sectoral dialogue partners Turkey, Pakistan, Norway, Switzerland and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Representing Turkey at the meeting in Singapore, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's visit to the country started yesterday. He is set to take part in a series of events tied to the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting.
Çavuşoğlu will hold the trilateral meeting along with ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is also ASEAN's 2018 chairman.
According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Çavuşoğlu is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from other participating countries.
Ankara formed ties with ASEAN in 1999 and attended its first summit in 2013. Turkey received observer status in ASEAN's multinational police force in 2014.
Turkey became a sectoral dialogue partner at last year's ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in the Philippines.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Ankara's "ultimate objective" for developing its relations with ASEAN is to achieve dialogue partnership.
A sectoral dialogue partnership with ASEAN could potentially help Turkey reach its trade figure goals within the framework of the country's 2023 vision. It would also prepare the grounds for economic and political relations with Southeast Asian countries while increasing Turkey's presence and visibility in the region and stabilizing the trade balance with the regional countries.
Though it is impossible for countries located outside of Southeast Asia to become full members of ASEAN, Turkey aims to set up a dialogue partnership, the highest institutional status of ties with the association for nonmembers. In addition to Turkey, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Mongolia have also applied to become dialogue partners with ASEAN.
ASEAN countries are scattered across a geographical area covering 4.3 million square kilometers, and their combined population stands at around 635 million, according to a 2016 poll. The countries are reported to have a $2.5 trillion gross domestic product (GDP). Turkey's trade volume with ASEAN countries rose from $1.3 billion in 2002 to above $8.7 billion in 2016 and $14.8 billion in 2017.
Ankara also aims to expand diplomatic dialogue with all ASEAN members. To that end, Turkey opened its embassy in Laos last year and has diplomatic representation in all 10 ASEAN member states.
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