Philippines postpones Asean talks

An annual summit of East Asian leaders due to begin in the Philippines on Monday has been postponed because of an approaching storm, officials say.

Organisers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) summit said tropical storm Utor was due to hit at the same time as leaders gathered.

They rejected suggestions the move was linked to terror attack warnings.

The US, UK and Australia issued an alert earlier this week that terrorists planned to target the meeting.

The Philippines has said it is not aware of any specific plot.

"The Philippine government arrived at this decision in consultation with the governments of the leaders participating in the summit," Marciano Paynor, summit organiser, said.

""Categorically I will state that the decision was based on this weather disturbance and this weather disturbance only," he told a news conference.

Devastating storms

The heads of the 10 nations in Asean were due to arrive in the central Philippines resort island of Cebu at the weekend for the start of the summit on Monday.

The two-day conference was due to be immediately followed by an East Asian summit, which has also been postponed.

Officials said meetings between Asean finance and foreign ministers would go ahead as planned over the weekend, but the leaders' summit would now take place in January.

Forecasters say tropical storm Utor is expected to make landfall on the island of Samar, some 200km east from Cebu, on Saturday with winds reaching 95km (59 miles) an hour.

If it follows its current path it will pass north of Cebu, intensifying into a typhoon as it heads into the South China Sea.

The Philippines has been battered by four severe storms in as many months.

Typhoon Durian has now claimed more than 1,200 lives after it hit north-central parts of the country last week.

Most of the deaths were in the area of the Mayon volcano, south-east of Manila, after heavy rains triggered massive mudslides that submerged several villages.

Durian also wrought devastation when it moved on to Vietnam, killing around 70 people with some 30 people still missing. Nearly 200,000 homes were destroyed.

08/12/2006

Bron : BBC News

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