Asia's annual security meeting opens this week amid the backdrop of North Korea's nuclear threat and increasing regional frustration over Myanmar's failure to restore democracy.
France, meanwhile, will sign a friendship treaty with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose ten-member nations gathered yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's biggest city, to prepare for the annual gathering of their foreign ministers tomorrow and Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was also expected to attend the r egional meeting on Thursday, her first visit to the annual conference in three years.
For Washington and ASEAN, the issue of member Myanmar's failure to restore democracy and to free democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been building for years.
"ASEAN has a lot of other things to do ... almost 99 per cent are other than Myanmar. But now Myanmar seems to be always there and clouding the other issues out of the way," ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong said.
The ministerial meeting will be followed by a series of meeting culminating on Friday in the ASEAN Regional Forum, the region's biggest security grouping.
In the lead up to this year's meeting, momentum has been building for ASEAN to host six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear impasse on the sidelines of the conference, which will include all the negotiators on the standoff - the two Koreas, US, Japan, China and Russia.