‘India helped steer ASEM from dialogue to deliverables’

    By IANS,

    Gurgaon: India as chair of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was successful in its endeavour to steer the 51-member forum from dialogue to deliverables with member countries agreeing that Asia and Europe should form joint responses to regional and global challenges and also for growth and development.

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    External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, addressing the media after the two-day ASEM foreign ministers’ conclave that saw representation by all members, including 34 foreign ministers, said India endeavoured to break away from the declaratory nature of previous ASEM deliberations.

    “India, as chair, sought to steer the forum from ‘dialogue’ to ‘deliverables’ and I am glad to say that we were successful in our endeavour.”

    He said the ASEM foreign ministers’ conclave “was successful in using the strength of political dialogue in ASEM to forge tangible cooperation amongst members. This marks the beginning of a new orientation for future ASEM meetings.

    Members agreed that the dynamism of ASEM should find expression in tangible result-oriented initiatives which could be utilised to define joint responses by Asia and Europe to global and regional challenges and also seize opportunities for growth and development.”

    Over the two days, members agreed to intensify efforts to bring about greater synergy between Asian and European partners in ASEM across the three pillars of political dialogue, economic collaboration and socio-cultural exchanges, he said.

    He said 12 areas have been identified for tangible cooperation and India would be working with interested ASEM partners in sustainable water management, energy efficiency technologies, disaster mitigation and response, vocational and skills training and education and human resource development.

    The ASEM ministers expressed solidarity and support for the victims of the Philippines typhoon in which 10,000 have died. Khurshid said: “We felt that ASEM should have the capacity to respond immediately in such instances.”

    The members also exchanged views and ideas on how to revive growth, create jobs especially for the youth and catalyze economic growth. They also discussed non-traditional security threats, particularly terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational crimes.

    “We exchanged ideas to address food, water and energy security, as well as address the emerging issues of cyber space and the issues related to cyber crime and cyber security confronting national governments and institutions,” said Khurshid.

    Croatia’s request for membership of ASEM was also discussed and Croatia was welcomed as “Guest of Chair” for all ASEM meetings in 2014 till a decision on its membership is arrived at the ASEM summit in Milan, Italy in the second half of 2014, he said.

    Khurshid said he held bilateral meetings with many visiting ASEM foreign ministers on the sidelines, including counterparts from China, Japan and Bangladesh.

    The ASEM grouping is dedicated to bringing Asia and Europe together. It represents about 60 percent of the world’s population, 52 per cent of the global gross domestic product, and 68 percent of the world trade.