Ansari leaves for Brussels to participate in ASEM

Vice President Ansari will address the summit on the opening day on Oct 4.

New Delhi: Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari left for Brussels on Sunday to take part in the ``Eight Asia-Europe Summit`` (ASEM-8).

Vice President Ansari will address the summit on the opening day on October 04, followed by bilateral engagements with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and Prime Minister of Belgium Yves Leterme and other political leaders.

"India considers ASEM as a valuable forum for bilateral and multilateral cooperation particularly for trade and investment facilitations," said Ministry of External Affairs Secretary-East Latha Reddy on Monday, while briefing the media on the visit of the vice president.

"The programme of the Summit will begin on October 04 with the usual welcome ceremony and the opening ceremony followed by closed session for the leaders. There will be a working dinner on October 04. The Financial and Economic Governance will be the theme of the first session as well as during the working dinner," she added.

During his visit, Vice President Ansari will address the first Plenary Session on October 04 on the subject - Financial and Economic Governance.

The chair`s statement and a statement on effective global economic governance are the two documents, which are expected to be issued at the conclusion of the Summit.

This is the second summit level participation for India. The Summit will witness expansion of ASEM membership further and will welcome three new partners - Australia, New Zealand and Russia who will be attending the ASEM Summit for the first time.

Latha Reddy further said ASEM brings together 27 European Union members and the European Commission from the European side, and from the Asian side it has ten ASEAN members and six other countries - China, India, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and South Korea.

"The six other countries are under a subgroup called NESA, which stands for North, East and South Asia. Australia, New Zealand and Russia will now join ASEM at Brussels," said Latha Reddy.

"With this combination of 27 European Union partners, the 10 ASEAN, the six members of NESA, the three new members, the European Union, and the ASEAN Secretariat, the total number will now come to 48," she added.

The Brussels meet is the second summit level participation by India.