Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday reiterated his country's desire to join the East Asia Summit to be able to engage with its current 18 members on strategic, political and economic issues.
At the outset of a summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Canada in Manila, Trudeau said, "We are ready to contribute to ASEAN's success in an increasingly globalized world by joining the East Asia Summit...at the earliest opportunity."
"As unprecedented dynamic growth is driving Southeast Asia's importance on the world stage, it is critical that we build this progress and that we expand this partnership," said Trudeau, whose country's engagement with the 10-member ASEAN dates back 40 years.
Canada became an ASEAN "dialogue partner" in 1977 and is one of only 10 countries with this important level of partnership.
But it is not yet part of the East Asia Summit, held annually since 2005 among ASEAN member states, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and expanded to 18 members in 2011 with the admission of the United States and Russia.
Sought for comment, an ASEAN official told Kyodo News that no country will be admitted this year as "there is a moratorium for EAS membership."
Trudeau also reiterated Canada's desire to be admitted to the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus, or ADMM-Plus, which has been held since 2010 to strengthen security and defense cooperation, and comprises the same 18 members.
"Canada is a Pacific country, as you well know. And being able to engage on broader issues of security, of development, of human rights, of economic opportunity...is very much in line with how Canada wants to and should engage constructively with the region and indeed the world," he told a news conference after the ASEAN-Canada summit.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.