ASEM meet to focus on political dialogue, eco collaboration

35 foreign ministers and representatives from 17 other countries got together for Asia-Europe Foreign Minister`s meet as India hoped deliberations will deal with regional and global issues.

Gurgaon: With a focus on political dialogue and economic collaboration, 35 foreign ministers and representatives from 17 other countries on Monday got together for the Asia-Europe Foreign Minister`s meet here as India hoped the deliberations will add to consensus on how best to deal with regional and global issues.

Inaugurating the 11th meeting of the forum, which brings together 60 percent of world`s population, 52 percent of global GDP and close to 70 per cent of world trade, Vice President Hamid Ansari said, "The vitality and continuing relevance of ASEM highlights its importance as a bridge between Asia and Europe and as a platform for dialogue to promote stability, peace and development.

"Dialogues have to be relevant in situational terms. We are witness today to important evolution in the political-security and socio-economic architectures across the two continents, as also globally.

"The world economy continues to be sluggish and emerging economies that were previously seen as the engines of economic growth have been compelled to take tough decisions they can ill afford, given the enormity of their developmental needs," Ansari said.

Noting that the international community was also facing a degree of unprecedented sophistication in non-traditional security threats, the Vice-President said, these transcend national borders and traditional response patterns and necessitate considerably higher levels of comprehension and cooperation.

"....Therefore, the strategic importance of the Asia-Europe partnership is evident.I believe we should look to optimise ASEM`s potential with a sense of greater urgency.

"We should endeavour to take it beyond being a forum for political dialogue only, make it reach out to the people of Member States and create wider stake-holding amongst economic partners and civil society.We should invest its outcomes with tangible deliverables," he said.

In his opening remarks, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, "We are making excellent progress to emphasise result-oriented initiatives by agreeing to work with like-minded ASEM members in areas with potential for tangible cooperation. We have agreed to bring about change in working methods of ASEM and the nature of its outcome documents.

"I am glad to share with you that the meeting of our senior officials over the last two days has also recommended the setting up of a Working Group on a Press and Public Awareness Strategy," he said.

Khurshid also hoped that the discussions will move ASEM beyond a declaratory political dialogue, towards tangible deliverables and concrete action in a more determined manner Ansari said, collective action under ASEM can strengthen the "understanding between our peoples, the dynamism in our economies and the realisation of our developmental priorities".

It can also help us to continue the process of understanding and consultation between ASEM countries in order to respond more effectively to global challenges, he said.

"ASEM has an unparalleled edge in terms of membership, capacity, economic influence, intellectual depth, strategic expertise and political leadership. ASEM`s outcomes must accord greater visibility to these strengths. This is an ambitious agenda but all our countries will have to share the burden. I sense greater resolve amongst us to deliver on this expectation," the Vice-President said.

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