ASEAN vows to fight climate change, joins hands with India
Hua Hin: Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday issued a joint statement on climate change and adopted a declaration on strengthening education cooperation at the 15th ASEAN Summit.
In the statement, ASEAN leaders said they shared common concern on the impact of climate change to the economy, environment and well-being of people in the region, Xinhua reported.
The leaders said they underscored the need for ASEAN to work closely together and with other partners for a successful Copenhagen Conference of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
ASEAN leaders, in the statement, reaffirmed their position that "Parties to the UNFCCC should protect the climate system on the basis of equity and in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and respective national circumstances and capabilities".
On strengthening education, ASEAN leaders said they underscored the importance of human resource development in promoting understanding among ASEAN peoples and ensuring the competitiveness of ASEAN Community in the global market.
"We adopted the Cha-am Hua Hin Declaration on Strengthening Cooperation on Education to achieve an ASEAN caring and sharing society which would promote regional standard of competencies, promote greater mobility of students within educational institutions in the region, as well as promote ASEAN awareness in all three pillars of the ASEAN community", the statement of the 15th ASEAN Summit said.
For this purpose, ASEAN leaders have entrusted relevant sectoral ministers to develop a five-year work plan on education.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
The ASEAN said that it stood for the early establishment of an ASEAN-India business council to strengthen business networks and opportunities.
A statement issued at the end of the 15th ASEAN Summit here said the regional grouping welcomed the signing of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement in August this year.
"The agreement is expected to create a free trade area comprising about 1.7 billion people with a combined GDP of approximately USD 2.75 trillion as of 2008," it said.
ASEAN said it had instructed its officials "to exert maximum effort towards concluding negotiations in services and investment to complete the mandate in the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and India (signed in 2003)".
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has suggested a commemorative ship expedition in 2011-12 to mark the sea routes developed during the 10th-12th centuries between India and Southeast Asia.
Addressing the seventh India-ASEAN Summit here, Manmohan Singh said: "The sea route could cover modern and ancient ports in ASEAN countries and other East Asian countries."
Dr Singh also suggested the establishment of an India-ASEAN round table to provide policy inputs to the governments on future areas of cooperation.
He said the round table should comprise think tanks, policy makers, scholars, journalists and business representatives to bridge the knowledge gap.
He also sought intensified negotiations on an open skies policy and further simplification of the visa regime to encourage business and tourist travel between India and ASEAN countries. He also proposed greater exchanges of youths and MPs.
Chinese Prime Minster Wen Jiabao made a six-point proposal for strengthening cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during his address at the bloc`s summit on Saturday.
Wen said the financial situation in China and ASEAN countries remained stable despite the global economic crisis, and trade between the two sides have entered "a stage of restorative growth", Xinhua reported.
He proposed six steps to enhance cooperation between the two sides: create China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, accelerate infrastructure development, deepen agricultural cooperation, promote sustainable development, strengthen cultural exchanges and advance regional cooperation at various levels.
He also called for protection of intellectual property rights and removal of technical trade barriers.
Wen said Beijing plans to hold a China-ASEAN Free Trade Area forum next year.
Both sides should make efforts to adopt the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Strategy at the earliest possible date, so as to expand cooperation in the field of renewable energy, among others, he added.
Battered by the global economic crisis, the US has decided to convene a summit meeting with the influential Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next month.
This "would mark a historic point in ASEAN-US Dialogue Relations", the ASEAN said at the end of its 15th summit.
"The (November) Summit is a reflection of the strong commitment of the US administration to deepen and expand its engagements with ASEAN," an ASEAN statement said.
(With IANS inputs)
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