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Leaders of East Asian countries are set to work on a feasibility study for a huge free trade zone as part of a broad agenda of a major summit that opened at a Thai beach resort of Hua Hin on Friday, informs AlJazeera Net Saturday.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) conference is being attended by leaders from China, Japan and South Korea, who will be joined by their counterparts from India, Australia and New Zealand on Saturday.

A separate study for a wider economic partnership also covering India, Australia and New Zealand would also be carried out in tandem, said officials.

Right now Asean have bilateral free trade agreements with all six countries completely. Now they will explore a feasibility study both in the East Asia Free Trade Area and with India, Australia and New Zealand.

When the summit opened, Asean unveiled the region’s first human rights commission, but it was immediately criticized by activists who pointed out that its mandate did not extend to prosecution of violators like Burma, an Asean member.