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ASEAN+3 to Further Strengthen Agricultural, Forestry Cooperation

Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, Japan and South Korea pledged on Friday to further strengthen their cooperation in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

In a joint press statement issued at the end of the 4th ASEAN Agriculture and Forestry Ministers (AMAF)+3 meeting in Yangon, the ministers expressed satisfaction with the growing cooperation in the sectors carried out between ASEAN and the three East Asian partners, welcoming new cooperation in the next two years.

Sources at the Chinese delegation said ASEAN ministers spoke highly of China's cooperation with the regional grouping in the sectors, appraising the achievements made in the move and citing benefits reaped from Chinese provision of agricultural technique with respect to maize and paddy hybrids.

In the statement, the ASEAN+3 ministers stressed the need to conserve the natural environment, preserve the social and cultural traditions of rural communities, while promoting a sustainable development in the sectors.

Welcoming the commencement of the three-year pilot project of the East Asia Emergency Rice Reserve earlier this year, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of such establishment to strengthen food security and address poverty alleviation in the East Asia region, encouraging each country to actively contribute on a voluntary basis to the project, according to the statement.

The ministers expressed the support for the formulation of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) or bird flu task force to coordinate the control and eradication of the influenza, which is affecting the public health, poultry production and economy in the region, it said.

Viewing that deforestation and degradation of forests in the region still remains a critical problem, the ministers reiterated the need for effective collaboration to enhance sustainable forest management in the region, the statement added.

The ministers agreed that the 5th AMAF+3 meeting will be held in the Philippines next year.

The AMAF+3 meeting was preceded a day by the AMAF meeting.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2004)

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