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Bombs won't delay summits

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (C) joins hands with his Myanmese and Philippine counterparts Nyan Win (L) and Alberto Romulo respectively as they pose for a group photo with all ASEAN Foreign Ministers prior to the ASEAN-China meeting held on the sideline of the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in the central city of Cebu, 11 January 2007. -AFP

A string of overnight bombings in the Philippines' troubled south will not disrupt the holding of two Asian summits to be attended by 16 leaders in the central province of Cebu, organizers said Thursday.

Foreign ministers from 10 member countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) opened their meeting as scheduled on Thursday in Cebu province, 585 kilometres south of Manila, while four leaders were expected to arrive within the day.

Marciano Paynor, head of the Philippine organizing committee, said no changes were being considered in the schedules and venues of the meetings in the wake of three bomb attacks in the southern cities of General Santos, Kidapawan and Cotabato on Wednesday evening.

Seven people were killed and 35 others injured in the bombings. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, but foreign governments had warned that terrorist groups were on the final stages of plotting an attack in the Philippines during the Asean and East Asian summits.

"I would like to dispel any notion that the recent bombings are related to the hosting of the Asean summits here in Cebu," Paynor said in a press briefing.

"The bombings were completely isolated incidents and do not relate to the summit meetings," he added. "Our venues and all other concerned areas are safe and secure. The delegates are arriving as scheduled and the meetings ongoing."

The first bomb blast occurred on Wednesday evening at a lottery outlet at the public market of General Santos City, 1,080 kilometres south of Manila, killing six people and wounding 23 others.

More than two hours later, another bomb exploded near a police outpost in nearby Kidapawan City, wounding six people.


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