ASEM summit consolidates "common ground" on key issues

10:07, October 06, 2010      

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Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, European Council's President Herman Van Rompuy, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, European Commission's President Jose Manuel Barroso and Lao's Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh (from L to R) attend the press conference after the closing ceremony of the 8th ASEM Summit in Brussels, capital of Belgium, on Oct. 5, 2010. (Xinhua/Thierry Monasse)

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) leaders expressed on Tuesday their willingness to work together to strengthen cooperation between the two regions.

Leaders from 46 Asian and European countries gathered in Brussels on October 4 and 5 to take part in the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting, a platform for dialogue launched in 1996 to discuss global and regional challenges.

"The ASEM 8 was the better in terms of free flow of discussions, " European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday, underlining the need for the two regions to find common ground and promote coordinate action.

During the meeting, Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme noted the countries' willingness to work together to reach agreement on global economic and financial governance, to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) more quickly, to promote sustainable development and to conclude Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with partner countries.

"An FTA with South Korea is due to be signed tomorrow and other will follow," Leterme said on Tuesday at ASEM press conference.

Participants expressed their will to join efforts to promote global economic recovery and reform the economy both internally and externally. On the one hand, countries will try to strengthen investments, develop social protection and adapt to the aging population problem. On the other hand, ASEM leaders will deal with the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and financial regulation.

"Leaders agreed to remain ambitious and work together with a sense of emergency to achieve the necessary reforms," European Council President Van Rompuy said on Tuesday. South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak also expressed his support to the reform of financial institutions and regulation.

According to Leterme, reconciliation between trade and environment is at the heart of the ASEM leaders concerns. In this regard, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Beijing Declaration on Sustainable Development of 2008 as basis of work to further advance the common objectives of economic development, social cohesion and environmental protection.

During this ASEM summit, leaders also discussed the need to narrow the development gap between countries, to reduce trade and investment barriers and to tackle security issues such as terrorism.

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