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Asia-Europe leaders huddle for addressing challenges

11-05-2012 21:10 BJT Special Report:Wen Attends 9th ASEM, Visits Laos |

VIENTIANE, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Leaders from Asian and European opened the Ninth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Lao capital of Vientiane on Monday with economic and financial issues featuring high on the agenda.

Heads of state and government from the 51-member ASEM would hold informal discussions on a host of issues of common concern as the international financial crisis has persisted for four years with the world facing a slow and tortuous recovery process.

Themed "Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity," the summit provided yet another important occasion for ASEM partners to share their thoughts and explore ways in enhancing better understanding between Asia and Europe and in addressing global challenges.

European Council President Van Rompuy said at the opening ceremony that the European Union (EU) have maintained close contact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 35 years, which paves the way for the EU to be even more fully involved with the region. "The two regions need to cooperate to promote peace, promote human rights and promote sustainable development and climate change. We have a historical responsibility to safeguard peace and work together for prosperity and growth. In some way, we all belong to the Eurasian continent,"he said.

Rompuy urged reinforcement of political leadership in Asia and more partnership agreements with Asian nations.

Founded in 1996, the ASEM now represents half of the world's population, more than half of the world's GDP and 55 percent of the world trade, showing the centrality of Asia-Europe relations in today's world, noted European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "But more important than statistics and figures is the common political will to jointly address today's challenges. This relation is indeed key for the world's prosperity and security," said Barroso.

The opening ceremony also witnessed the accession of Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland as new members of ASEM, bringing its total membership to 51.

In his keynote speech delivered on the occasion, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said as long as Asia and Europe cooperate with each other closely, they can certainly be able to shoulder the responsibility of promoting a steady growth of the world economy. "China has taken a crucial role in global economic governance, helped push forward the reform of the international financial system and extended a helping hand to countries with economic difficulties," said Wen, who would also pay a state visit to Laos.

As the largest-ever international conference ever hosted by Laos, a land-locked country with a population of 6.5 million, the summit was also considered a good chance for the nation to raise its role and reputation in the regional and international arenas.

In his opening remarks, Lao President Choummaly Sayasone expressed the hope that the summit would discuss and exchange lessons learned and experiences as well as explore appreciate solutions to minimize the impact of the global financial crisis in order to foster a robust economic growth.

The two-day Vientiane Summit will take up other issues including food and energy security, socio-cultural cooperation and climate change, among others.

The last time ASEM leaders met was in Brussels in 2010 with economic issues such as reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in focus in the wake of Europe's sovereign debt crisis and a strong rebound of Asian economies.


Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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