MANILA， April 26 (Xinhua) -- Some 120 senior transport officials and delegates from the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and dialogue partners convened here Tuesday to discuss initiatives that will further enhance transport connectivity in the region.
In a statement， the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said the 41st Senior Transport Officials Meeting (STOM) will take place until Thursday.
""Today's event also allows us to pursue further cooperative work in the transportation sector that will enhance regional cohesion and provide higher quality of life for the people，"" said DOTC Assistant Secretary for Planning Sherielysse Bonifacio， chairperson of the meeting， in her opening statement.
The DOTC said the transport sector will also embark on new projects and programs as it adopts the Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan (KLTSP) 2016-2025， the successor document that outlines 30 specific goals， 78 actions and 221 milestones in the five areas of transportation， such as air， land， maritime， transport facilitation and sustainable transport， to guide the ASEAN economic integration from 2016 to 2025.
ASEAN's dialogue partners for this meeting include China， the European Union， Japan， South Korea and Russia， the department said.
The 41st STOM will also open the door to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) for possible collaboration between ASEAN and UNESCAP in the future， it added.
BAGHDAD， May 1 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Sunday started to withdraw from the Green Zone in central Baghdad in honor for a major Shiite ritual and to give time for the political parties to agree on reforms demanded by the protesters.
A statement issued by a committee of Sadr aides， responsible for organizing the protest， said ""the masses from a position of strength announces evacuation from the Green Zone.""
The statement said that the move came as hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims gather at the mausoleum of Imam Musa al-Kadhim in Baghdad's northern district of Kadhmiyah to commemorate the death of the seventh of the most revered 12 Shiite Imams.
The statement reiterated the demand of Sadr's followers to vote in new cabinet members of independent technocrats.
The statement warned that if the government and the parliament fail to meet their demand， there would be call for early elections， while the people will take all lawful means， like entering the headquarters of the three presidencies (President， Premier and Speaker) and announcing civil disobedience and public strike.
On Saturday， thousands of Sadr followers broke into the heavily fortified Green Zone and took control of the parliament building and surrounding areas， while dozens of lawmakers， officials and employees tried to escape the government district.
Breaking into the Green Zone came minutes after Sadr delivered a televised speech from the holy Shiite city of Najaf， in which he rejected the latest approval of partial cabinet members presented earlier by Abadi.
""Any minister in the Iraqi government is not our candidate and represents only his government，"" Sadr said， confirming that he and his followers ""will not participate in any political process that includes quota system.""
He accused all the political blocs of being determined to vote on their loyal ministers under the title of political technocrats.
""All those political blocs decided to kill the real reform movement through today's parliament session，"" Sadr said， referring to the parliament session which failed earlier in the day to achieve quorum due to deep division by the political blocs over the new candidates presented by Abadi for his new cabinet.
Some political blocs and politicians apparently have been resisting the reforms because there is a lack of trust among the political parties， which see that such reforms are marginalizing their factions.
Sadr's discontent with the partial cabinet reshuffle was seen as a signal for his followers to increase pressure on the parliament by storming the Green Zone.
A series of failed reform measures have paralyzed Iraq's parliament and the government as the country struggles to fight the Islamic State militant group， which seizes swathes of territories in northern and western Iraq. The country is also in dire need to respond to an economic crisis sparked in part by a plunge in global oil prices.
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