France, Timor Leste OK Non-Aggression Pact

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CEBU - France and Timor Leste yesterday signed a non-aggression pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a first step towards full membership in the larger East Asian bloc.

On the first day of the ASEAN leaders' summit, the two countries signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with the ASEAN in the hopes of forging stronger diplomatic and trade relations with the group.

The treaty is a requirement to enter the East Asia summit, a 16- member grouping that was launched in December as part of ambitious efforts to chart a pan-Asian community that one day might rival those of North America and Europe .

The accord compels signatories to renounce the use or threat of force against ASEAN members and stresses non- interference in signatories' internal affairs With the signing of the Instrument of Extension, France and Timor Leste became the 11th and 12th states to accede to the Treaty.

France also becomes the first European country to join a Southeast Asian non- aggression pact. So far, 10 countries have acceded to the treaty -- Australia, China , India , Japan , Mongolia , New Zealand , South Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Russia . Catherine Colonna, Minister Delegate for European Affairs of the French Republic and Jose Luis Guterres, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, signed the Instrument of Accession for their respective countries.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the accession of France to TAC will open more opportunities for deeper economic and political engagement between ASEAN and the European nation. …