Staff writer

The ASEAN Regional Forum will select Japan as a joint chair of the 21-nation security forum’s working group on international peacekeeping operations later this month, Foreign Ministry officials said Thursday.

The officials, who asked not to be named, said that foreign ministers of the ARF member nations will select Japan, Canada and Malaysia to jointly chair the working group when they hold their annual meeting in Manila on July 27.

Although the three countries will jointly chair the working group on international peacekeeping operations, Tokyo will actually host the various activities of the group over the next year, the officials said.

ARF has three working groups. One focuses on confidence-building measures, another on disaster-relief operations and the third on international peacekeeping operations. Normally, two forum members jointly chair each working group for a one-year term. Japan has previously jointly chaired the ARF’s working group on confidence-building measures.

ARF held its inaugural meeting at the ministerial level in Thailand in 1994. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations groups Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Among ARF member nations are powerful countries with security interests in the Asia-Pacific region, such as the United States, Japan, Russia, China and India. The forum’s membership will be expanded to 22 this year with the admission of Mongolia.

The escalation of the nuclear arms race in South Asia following nuclear testing by India and Pakistan in May is expected to top the agenda at this year’s ARF meeting.

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