Published on Sunday, 04 November 2012 13:44
The Jakarta Post
Publication Date : 04-11-2012
Thirty-four heads of states and governments, including Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, have confirmed their attendance at the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Summit to be held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, from Nov 5-6, 2012.
According to a list released by the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the confirmed heads of delegates, 12 are heads of states and 22 are heads of governments. Other delegates are either headed by a deputy prime minister, minister, deputy minister or an ambassador.
“They are expected to arrive on Sunday,” the ministry’s deputy director of foreign media division, Soukhasavanh Sanaphay told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the preparation of the summit in Vientiane on Saturday.
Fifty two partners comprising Asem member states and organisations, including the Asean Secretariat, European Commission and European Council, are scheduled to take part in the summit, the biggest high-level international event ever held so far in the country.
Indonesian President Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono are expected to arrive in Vientiane on Sunday morning, directly from their official visit to the UK.
During his stay in Vientiane, the President is also scheduled to attend the 13th Asia-Europe Business Forum held back-to-back with the summit on Sunday and Monday and have some bilateral meetings, including with Lao PDR President Choummaly Sayasone and French President Francois Hollande.
“Yes, the schedules for the bilateral meetings are still there,” a presidential secretariat staff said.
Previously, presidential foreign affairs spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said in Jakarta that the President’s visit to Laos was expected to improve the bilateral relationship between the two countries as well as promote shared interests in the region, especially through Asean.
Faizasyah also said the President’s presence at the summit was a form of Indonesia’s active participation in promoting inter-region cooperation between Asia and Europe.
“With the theme ‘Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity’, participating countries are expected to discuss joint efforts to cope with various global issues of common interests and concerns, especially the global economic crisis,” Faizasyah said prior to the President’s departure to London, UK.
As of Saturday, over 750 foreign journalists had registered to cover the summit.
Issues expected to be discussed during the summit include food and energy security, sustainable development, financial and economic crisis, climate change, natural disaster response, socio-cultural cooperation and future direction of Asem.
The Asem process dates back to 1990 with a mutual recognition in both Asia and Europe that the relationship between the two regions needed to be strengthened to respond to the fast changing regional and global environment of the then era and the perspectives of the 21th Century.
The idea of holding an Asia-Europe summit came up in 1994. It was initiated by Singapore and was aimed at discussing how to build a new partnership between the two regions. The first Asem Summit was held in Bangkok in March 1996, which marked the birth of the Asem process.
This year marks the 16th anniversary of the establishment of Asem. At present, its membership has expanded from initially 26 in 1996 to 52 partners, as three more countries, namely Bangladesh, Switzerland and Norway joined the summit this year.
Despite various challenges such as climate change, economic and financial crisis, high prices of food and energy, natural disasters and the outbreak of infectious diseases that have negatively impacted the socio-economic development of the two regions, Asem is still considered a relevant and important forum for Asem partners to share thoughts, exchange views and explore ways to promote better understanding and enhance cooperation between Asia and Europe.
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