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Beijing ASEM to Open New Era in Asia-Europe Ties: French Diplomat
    2008-10-23 21:46:15     Xinhua

The upcoming 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing will open a new era in the history of Asia-Europe relations, French Ambassador to the Philippines Gerard Chesnel has said.


Leaders will continue to strengthen the forum and turn it into a real partnership, said Chesnel, whose country now holds the EU's rotating presidency.


Since the first summit was held in Bangkok in 1996, Europe-Asia relations have grown steadily within the framework of ASEM, he added.


"Europe and Asia now enjoy what is arguably the most dynamic region-to-region relationship in the world today," Chesnel told a recent press conference in Manila.


Between 2000 and 2007, EU's trade with the 16 Asian countries that take part in the ASEM grew by around 60 percent, according to data from the EU statistics bureau Eurostat.


The 7th ASEM, chaired by China, with France exercising the EU presidency, will be held in Beijing on Oct. 24 and 25.


Under the theme of "Vision and Action: Towards a Win-Win Solution," leaders will tackle global challenges directly affecting citizens of both regions, including international peace and stability, sustainable development, human rights, climate change, energy and food security, the global economy and counter-terrorism.


The summit will be the largest ever with six new members, as India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Romania, Bulgaria and the ASEAN Secretariat will be participating for the first time, bringing the ASEM membership up to 45 partners.


"It will gather together most of Asia and Europe," Chesnel said, adding that the current global financial crisis is expected to be a hot topic during the summit.


"It is a global crisis," he said, so countries from all over the world should coordinate their policies.


Alistair MacDonald, head of the European Commission delegation to the Philippines, echoed Chesnel at the press briefing.


"No economy is an island in today's world. Europe and Asia are just like global neighbors," MacDonald said. The financial turmoil is sure to be addressed in the upcoming ASEM, he added.


"The world needs greater and broader surveillance over financial institutions for greater control of their expenses," he said.


In addition, Asia and Europe need stronger trade and investment links, which is also important to cushion the impact of the financial crisis, MacDonald added.



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