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Philippines: 45 EU, Asian Leaders To Meet In Beijing

MANILA, PHILIPPINES: Forty-five leaders from Europe and Asia will meet in Beijing for the 7th Asian European Meeting (ASEM) Summit on 24 to 25 Oct to discuss the global financial crisis, the European Union delegation and the French embassy here said.

Aside from the 25 EU countries, 10 Asean countries, the European Commission, China, Japan, and South Korea, which were in the last summit in Helsinki, six new members will join the summit: India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Asean Secretariat.

The two-day summit will be co-chaired by China, this year's host, and France, which currently holds the EU presidency.

Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald said the summit, which has the theme "Vision and Action: Towards a Win-Win Solution" is "much more human dialogue".

"The leaders are on their own. They don’t have agenda. They are free to discuss whatever issues they want to talk about--political, economic, social, and cultural issues.”

He said the global financial crunch would be high on the agenda.

"We have to strengthen our economic partnership, our trade and investment links. We should work together for a global economic governance system to survive,” he said in a press conference at the EC delegation office in Makati City. “This crisis shows that no man, no economy is an island.”

“We need to have a proper system in place because there will always be crisis...This is not the first, nor the last crisis. Waves do arise, but we have to make sure that these waves are not tsunamis,” he added.

Outgoing French Ambassador to the Philippines Gerard Chesnel, who was also at the briefing, said the meeting is important as it brings together the leaders of countries that "represent half of the world's gross domestic product, almost 60% of humanity, and 60% of global trade."

Chesnel described the Beijing meeting as a "timely opportunity" for the leaders to harmonise policies to resolve the crisis.

“It is important to coordinate our policies to address the crisis. It’s a global crisis and we need to have global response,” he said during the briefing.

Chesnel said no country should adopt a policy that will be counterproductive for the rest of the world.

MacDonald said EU leaders are likely to work to remove trade barriers in these uncertain times.

"The economy works in cycles...The EU is not inclined to increase trade barriers during crises," he said, citing the EU efforts to remove them during the Asian 1997 financial crisis.

Aside from global economic crisis, the leaders are also set to discuss the human rights situation in Asian countries, like Burma and China and to resume the stalled World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks.

Chesnel said among the global challenges that may be tackled by the leaders are international peace and stability, sustainable development, human rights, climate change, energy and food security, the global economy and counter-terrorism.

Chesnel said civil society groups, parliamentarians, and the business community will also meet at independent but related events in Beijing.

"Since the first summit in Bangkok in 1996, Europe-Asia relations have grown steadily within the framework of ASEM. Europe and Asia enjoys the most dynamic region to region relationship in the world today,” he said.

The other EU countries that will participate in this week's ASEM are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The 10 Asean countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. (By VERONICA UY/ The Philippines Daily Inquirer/ ANN)

MySinchew 2008.10.22


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