Leaders from Asia and Europe met at Laos to launch the two-day summit aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two regions amid growing concern on the slowing global economy, hurt by the eurozone crisis.
The dialogue opened Monday in the capital, Vientiane, with economic and financial issues on the agenda. French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti spearheaded efforts to boost much-needed trade with Asia, reassuring the region that Europe is still an economic power and stressing Asia’s role in further driving growth.
“Asians have gained a lot from our growth. Now it’s time for them to boost our growth with their demand,” Mr. Hollande told AFP.
The final draft of the Vientiane Declaration “underlined the need for Asia and Europe to promote a closer engagement toward a stronger and dynamic partnership in addressing the current global crisis.”
Japanese Prime Minister Noda expressed eagerness on free trade talks between Japan, China, South Korea and with the European Union, adding that he will improve relations with the Asian countries that have soured over territorial disputes, The Nikkei reports.
Territorial disputes have not been openly discussed during the summit due to Chinese opposition but ASEM leaders reiterated the “UN Charter and international law” as a guiding principle to resolve the issues.
The meeting also included numerous issues such as energy and food security, disaster management, climate change, the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the recent developments in Myanmar. According to the draft, the ASEM leaders will call for “peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.”
The paper also underlined the “need to strengthen collective preparedness and response to disasters” and “recognized the importance of strengthening of international nuclear safety legal framework” in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.