Vice-President Hamid Ansari arrived here on Sunday to attend the eighth Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, which has been termed a “policymaking laboratory” for the free and frank environment it gives world leaders to air their views.
The summit, taking place a month before the G-20 Summit begins in Seoul, will provide the developed and developing worlds with an opportunity to coordinate their positions, given that its main theme is the international economic and financial crisis.
It will also discuss climate change and ways of strengthening the multilateral trade system that will be the centre of global attention at the 16th Conference of the Parties of the Climate Change Convention, to be held a few weeks after the Seoul summit.
“ASEM leaders will address these and other challenges, but they will also focus on the relationship between the two regions,” said an official. They will discuss new issues such as cooperation against piracy at sea.
India was admitted to ASEM at its previous summit, which was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The biennial summit got off the ground in 1996 with just the 10-nation ASEAN and the European Union, which was much smaller then. It has now grown into a larger body. On the Asian side, it consists of the ASEAN countries, the Republic of Korea, China, Japan, India, Pakistan and Mongolia.
Australia, New Zealand and Russia will formally join the grouping on Monday.
On the opening day, the world leaders will start work on “priority number one” — moving towards more effective global financial and economic governance. A separate declaration, ‘Towards more effective global economic governance,' is expected to be adopted at the end of the summit.
The other important subject is advancing on the path of sustainable development. The EU-ASEM leaders will address the issue at their second session on the second day.
At the third session, global issues of great concern to their populations will be the agenda: the fight against terrorism and organised crime, elimination of piracy at sea and reversal of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
The fourth topic on the agenda is regional issues. The leaders will exchange views on the regional cooperation mechanisms and efforts at integration taking place in their respective regions in Eurasia. They will also discuss development and security issues such as Iran and Afghanistan.