The two capitals are separated by the Straits of Malacca – one of the busiest shipping lanes of the world. This week, the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, and the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, are quietly but very quickly gearing for the final highlights on the ASEAN’s annual Calendar – the 21 ASEAN Summit and related Summits.

Staff from the ASEAN Secretariat, officials from all government Ministries in Cambodia, hotel staff in Phnom Penh, and thousands of Cambodians are all focused on one objective – everything must be ready for the meetings.

“If you look at the partners attending the Summit, you will realize that some of the most powerful world leaders are here. ASEAN today is a collection of 10 robust, promising economies and closely-integrated political entity. ASEAN has become increasingly interlinked as an economic bloc, and is attracting world attention as being centred in the ‘new growth centre of the world,’” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

The Summit – which officially kicks off from this Sunday, November 18 – will expect leaders of the countries in the ASEAN, East Asia, and others; including US President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, in addition to leaders of Japan, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand, among others.

With the objective of ASEAN Community by 2015 less than three years away, the economy will feature high on the agenda–particularly, narrowing the development gap between Member States and economic integration. The ASEAN leaders will also discuss global economy, trade exchange, security matters, human rights, environment and climate change.