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ASEAN foreign ministers inspect Kunming-Bangkok highway

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Officials of ASEAN countries pose for a group photo at Mohan Port of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Jan. 24, 2011. The foreign ministers and senior officials of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan paid a group inspection to the Kunming-Bangkok highway in Yunnan on Monday. They will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday. The 1,750 km highway which connects Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province to Bangkok in Thailand plays a significant role in the China-ASEAN free trade zone transportations. (Photo Source:Xinhua)

KUNMING, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), their representatives and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan inspected the Kunming-Bangkok highway Monday, one day ahead of their meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue welcomed the ASEAN diplomats at Mohan Port, on the China-Laos border. He also accompanied them on a ride to Jinghong along the Kunming-Bangkok highway.

The 1,750-kilometer-long road linking Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, with Bangkok lays a solid foundation for the China-ASEAN free trade zone by improving connectivity.

Connectivity is expected to be discussed at the meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his ASEAN counterparts Tuesday morning.

The meeting will kick off a series of events to celebrate the China-ASEAN Friendship and Exchange Year.

China and ASEAN started their dialogue in 1991. The two sides established "a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity" in 2003.

In Jan. 2010, the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area took effect, opening up a combined market of 1.9 billion people.

China is ASEAN's biggest trade partner and ASEAN is China's fourth.

Two-way trade between the two sides amounted to over 292.78 billion U.S. dollars in 2010.

Laotian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith waves his hand at Mohan Port of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Jan. 24, 2011. The foreign ministers and senior officials of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan paid a group inspection to the Kunming-Bangkok highway in Yunnan on Monday. They will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday. The 1,750 km highway which connects Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province to Bangkok in Thailand plays a significant role in the China-ASEAN free trade zone transportations. (Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Laotian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith waves his hand at Mohan Port of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Jan. 24, 2011. The foreign ministers and senior officials of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan paid a group inspection to the Kunming-Bangkok highway in Yunnan on Monday. They will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday. The 1,750 km highway which connects Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province to Bangkok in Thailand plays a significant role in the China-ASEAN free trade zone transportations. (Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Laotian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith waves his hand at Mohan Port of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Jan. 24, 2011. The foreign ministers and senior officials of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan paid a group inspection to the Kunming-Bangkok highway in Yunnan on Monday. They will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday. The 1,750 km highway which connects Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province to Bangkok in Thailand plays a significant role in the China-ASEAN free trade zone transportations. (Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

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