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ASEM Urged to Be Substantive Cooperation Framework Between Asia, Europe

The fifth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Hanoi is expected to convey a strong message of the vision of its leaders to rapidly turn ASEM into a more substantive and efficient cooperation framework, said Vietnam's President Tran Duc Luong in Hanoi Friday.

The ASEM opened its fifth summit in Hanoi after three more nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and 10 new members of the European Union (EU) joined ASEM on Thursday.

Delivering an opening speech at the ASEM 5, the first gathering of leaders of the 39 old and new members, Luong said that over nearly a decade since its inception, the ASEM process has developed dynamically and yielded important results. However, ASEM cooperation is still limited in scope, incommensurate with tremendous potentials of the two continents and not sufficiently active.

Against that background, ASEM 5 has the significant mandate to work out suitable measures and steps to reach the goals reflected in its over-arching and consistent theme, "Further Revitalizing and Substantiating Asia-Europe Partnership", said Luong.

"The Hanoi summit should convey a strong message of the leaders' clear determination, long-term vision and commitment to concrete actions so as to bring the ASEM process to a new development stage toward a comprehensive Asia-Europe partnership," he said.

He said that the first-ever enlargement of ASEM at this summit constitutes an important step forward in the development of the process. This enlargement will increase dynamism and help tap the full potentials of Asia-Europe partnership, and heighten ASEM's important role and position in the world arena.

"It also compels us to further consolidate the Asia-Europe cooperation and dialogue and take into account the wish of other countries to join ASEM," Luong said, adding "Political dialogue should be further strengthened so as to turn ASEM into an important force in securing peace, security and sustainable development in the world."

He noted that new global challenges are emerging. Those are widespread instability and conflicts, and looming international terror. Traditional and non-traditional threats and negative impacts of globalization are also creating many complicated and seemingly insoluble problems.

The Hanoi summit will surely forge a common understanding of ASEM's directions and joint actions to deal with these global, multidimensional challenges, noted Luong.

He also mentioned that closer economic cooperation is vital to the cohesiveness and sustainability of the Asia-Europe partnership. The Hanoi summit presents the leaders with a golden opportunity to discuss ways and means to expand Asia-Europe economic cooperation to tap the potentials of the member countries in a way that is beneficial to all.

The summit is expected to pass a declaration on closer Asia-Europe economic partnership, which demonstrates the leaders strong political will in this endeavor, said Luong.

He said the summit will also adopt a declaration on dialogues among cultures and civilizations, which reaffirms ASEM's understanding of the importance of dialogues among cultures and civilizations, the value of unity in diversity as well as the need to promote and preserve the cultural identity of each and every nation.

ASEM, which began its process in 1996 at the initiative of Singapore, constitutes a forum for informal dialogue between the heads of states and governments to exchange their views on important issues agreed upon by all ASEM partners. ASEM holds a summit every two years and the venue alternates between Asia and Europe.

After enlargement, ASEM includes 10 ASEAN countries as well as China, Japan and South Korea, and all the 25 EU members and the European Commission.

(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2004)

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