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Pakistani FM Calls for Promotion of Regional Integration

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri on Tuesday called for devising a comprehensive strategy to create conducive environment for promoting regional integration through establishing Asia-wide linkages.  

The Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) should act as the main facilitator in promoting strategic partnerships among Asian countries, Kasuri told the opening ceremony of a daylong high-level expert seminar on economic cooperation in Asia, being held in Islamabad prior to the fourth ACD ministerial meeting.


"There is a common desire to open new chapter of Asian prosperity and a lot of work has been done to expand trade and economic ties between various countries of Asia through sub-regional grouping but there is still a long way, we have to go to achieve the desire goals," said Kasuri.


He stressed that the Asian countries will have to move forward in enhancing trade and economic cooperation to fight against poverty and make Asia prosperous.


He said the emergence of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) is a region-wide process that reflects common desire of self-reliance, consolidation and building a partnership between the Asian states.


Kasuri called for enhancing cooperation among Asian countries, particularly in agriculture, trade, finance and energy.


"Poverty is a major threat to prosperity everywhere and the situation demands to steer the Asian Cooperation Dialogue towards embracing all the sub-regions of the continent to share the fruit of progress, prosperity and best practices to combat poverty in Asia," Kasuri said.


While speaking at the seminar, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Surakiart Sathirathai said that Asian countries must analyze the success stories of America and Europe and should take bold decisions to confront the challenges and make Asia a symbol of harmony and peace. He called on the ACD members to continue their efforts to enhance cooperation, particularly in trade, finance, energy and information technology.


Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Morshed Khan in his keynote address suggested creating a commodity exchange program to expand the base of inter-regional trade in Asia.


Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo in his address stressed the need to resolve political issues in Asia and promote understanding and trust to expand business network in the continent.


He said Singapore would be hosting the first Asia Middle East Dialogue in June this year to bring the Asian countries closer and enhance cooperation in all fields.


Senior diplomats and experts from 26 ACD members are participating in the daylong deliberations of the seminar. They would prepare suggestions to promote cooperation in various areas in its members.


The 26-member ACD, founded in June 2002, is the only official dialogue and cooperation mechanism open to Asia. It aims at integrating the present sub-regional cooperation in Asia, and promoting dialogue and cooperation among Asian countries.


The 4th ministerial meeting will be held in Islamabad on Wednesday. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is starting a four-state South Asian tour from Pakistan, will make a keynote speech at the meeting.


(Xinhua News Agency April 6, 2005)

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