THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary, Nov 19, 2011
Nov 19, 2011. SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The two moving parts to the East Asia Summit were the plenary session, which was a fairly scripted discussion of the five somewhat arcane areas of focus, historical, from the beginning of the EAS six years ago, including things like avian flu and so on, where each leader—intervention, and the leaders retreat, which was private, just the leaders plus one, with no separate—no sound, anyway, in a note-taking room. So it really was a more intimate discussion.
Apart from the ritualistic recitation of some of the ASEAN steps on the specific historical agenda, the bulk of the plenary discussion focused on disaster relief and some of the initiatives that have been taken by member countries, including the U.S. proposal for a disaster relief mechanism that would allow for quick response by pre-cooking access agreements in advance of an emergency.
By far the most interesting element in the East Asia Summit was the leaders retreat, which followed a social lunch and lasted for just under two hours. Thereto, there were a number of ASEAN-specific issues that were touched on by many of the leaders, including as related to economic integration, free trade, education, continued discussion on disaster response and so on.