The Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, China and South Korea have agreed to enhance the region's financial cooperation, despite the absence of the Chinese and South Korean finance ministers.

At the so-called ASEAN Plus Three meeting involving East Asia's three largest economies, the countries agreed Friday in India to elevate the region's first economic and financial surveillance body to the status of an international organization, with the aim of strengthening the regional financial safety net.

With the decision, the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), will be given the same status as the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank. AMRO was established in April 2011 to oversee the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization currency swap agreement launched in 2010.