By Jim Gomez and Teresa Cerojano
MANILA, Philippines — Alarm over North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile tests, a tentative step to temper South China Sea disputes and unease over a disastrous siege by pro-Islamic State group militants will grab the spotlight in an annual gathering of Southeast Asia's top diplomats with their Asian and Western counterparts.
The 27 nations deploying their foreign ministers for three days of summitry and handshake photo-ops in Manila starting Saturday include the main protagonists in long-tormenting conflicts led by the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South and North Korea.
The Philippines plays host as this year's chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. It's an unwieldy 10-nation collective of democracies, monarchies and authoritarian regimes founded half a century ago in the Cold-War era, which prides itself for being a bulwark of diplomacy in a region scarred by a history of wars and interminable conflicts.
A look at the main issues expected to dominate the meetings:
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