Southeast Asian leaders discuss ways to lower oil prices

Leaders from Southeast Asian nations have met in New York to discuss cooperation on alternate energy sources and how to prod oil-producing countries to curb rising fuel prices, the Philippines U.N. ambassador said.

More than 160 world leaders are in New York this week for a summit to mark the United Nation's 60th anniversary and to tackle the major global issues of the 21st century, including terrorism, human rights abuse and poverty.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations _ Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand _ focused during a closed-door meeting Tuesday on how the high cost of oil was hurting their region, said Lauro Baja Jr.

"The oil crisis ... affects not only governments, but also the people," Baja said. "Spiraling oil prices will affect everybody, and we advocated for increased cooperation in alternative sources of energy, collective action on the diplomatic front, and how we could approach OPEC about what they can do to alleviate the spiraling prices."

One idea the leaders discussed, Baja said, was recycling petrodollars generated by the oil industry. They also urged exploration of hydropower and bio-energy. Baja said Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo asked for cooperation from the United Nations in broaching the subject of lowering oil prices with oil-producing countries.

A barrel of light crude oil was quoted Tuesday at $63.70, up 36 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. OPEC members will meet Sept. 19 and are expected to announce an additional output of 500,000 barrels per day.

Many oil analysts believe output is already sufficient to meet global needs, although a lack of refining capacity _ particularly since Hurricane Katrina hit the southern United States _ is leading to shortages of gasoline and other oil products.

The ASEAN leaders also issued a statement urging a solution to the massive debt of many poor countries and calling for continued efforts to prevent and control diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome and bird flu, АР reported.

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