Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Wednesday called on the Asian countries to join hands for Asia's prosperity and peace, and said China's emergence as a powerhouse for the global economy placed it in a unique position to advance these goals.
"Asia is a continent of opportunities and to harness our full potential, Asia needs to get together and join hands for prosperity and peace," he said while inaugurating the Fourth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD).
Aziz noted the emergence of ACD as an effective means of promoting intra-Asia cooperation and called for promoting the required synergy for achieving Asia's enormous potential.
He called for concrete actions to promote intra-regional trade, encourage investment in Asian nations and create corridors for cooperation through multi-sectoral linkages such as energy, trade, transportation, tourism, etc.
Aziz highlighted Pakistan's strategic location of sitting at the crossroads of South and Central Asia as well as West and East Asia and offered the shortest land route to the sea for the landlocked countries of Central Asia and west China from its seaports.
He said that with its linkages to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization, Pakistan could be the anchor of peace, stability and prosperity for the entire region.
"Pakistan is ready and willing to share the geo-political advantages of its location with its Asian neighbors. It is capable of serving the region as a multiple corridor for energy, trade, tourism and transportation," he added.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who began a three-day official visit of Pakistan on Tuesday, also delivered the keynote address at the meeting, saying that "Asia's building blocks are linked by the ACD for tomorrow's stronger and more prosperous Asian community. Ultimately, Asia's wealth and strength are not merely beneficial to Asia but will also be significant contribution to security, peace and prosperity for the rest of the world."
Aziz said the presence of Premier Wen was a great source of encouragement and would definitely contribute to the achievements of the objectives of the ACD.
"The increasing integration of the Chinese economy with those of the region is a source of strength and stability for Asia," the prime minister said while referring to China's spectacular transformation and economic miracle.
Foreign ministers and other senior ministers from 26 countries are attending the meeting of the 26-member ACD, which was established in June 2002 in Thailand to facilitate cooperative dialogue among the Asian countries.
The Islamabad ACD meeting will issue an Islamabad Declaration and approve Islamabad Initiative on Economic Cooperation in Asia.
(Xinhua News Agency April 6, 2005)