ASEAN pleads for aid access to Gaza


ASEAN, whose members include the largest Muslim nation, Indonesia, is calling for unimpeded aid access to Gaza . The body also wants the resumption of Middle East peace talks. A draft document says foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations “strongly condemned” the May 31 Israeli military raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip. Nine activists died in the raid, which sparked an international outcry. “In this regard, we reiterated the call for the unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza in order to help alleviate their plight,” says the draft obtained yesterday ahead of the 10 foreign ministers’ annual talks, which begin in Vietnam today. The discussions culminate on Friday in the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia-Pacific’s largest security dialogue, which will be attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.In their draft, the ministers call for a resumption of negotiations for “a final, just and comprehensive settlement with the realisation of two states, Israel and Palestine.” Along with Indonesia, ASEAN includes Muslim-majority nations Malaysia and Brunei.