VIENTIANE (VNS) — Maintaining peace should be the priority of every country, so all disputes should be settled by peaceful measures when possible, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said yesterday during a discussion of regional issues under the framework of the ninth Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM).
The world is transitioning into a new development period, which brings both new opportunities and security-related challenges, the Prime Minister said.
He added that Viet Nam highly appreciates that Laos, as the host country for the 9th ASEM, chose the theme of "Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity," as it is impossible to gain prosperity without peace and stability.
Dung also emphasized that the central role ASEAN serves is to keep the regional environment peaceful and co-operative, and said the country would do its part to help with this mission.
The relations between ASEAN and its partners have been intensified via mechanisms of ASEAN+1, ASEAN +3, ASEAN Security Forum, East Asia Summit and the extended ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting.
When the discussion broadened to include global issues, the PM suggested that such matters be addressed based on a long-term, comprehensive and multi-sectoral vision in harmony with the Millenium Development Goals including environmental protection, hunger eradication and poverty reduction and gender equity.
He also said it is necessary to keep making efforts to reform the United Nations and international financial institutions and heighten the effectiveness of the current regional and inter-regional co-operation mechanisms.
PM also suggested specific programs be implemented to solve emerging development issues, especially in forecasting climate change, issuing early warnings about natural disasters and conserving water resources.
He said these issues are of interest to many countries in the Asia Pacific region, an area whose population makes up more than 60 per cent of the world but that possesses only 30 per cent of the world's water resources and suffers more than 70 per cent of global natural disasters.
Viet Nam has suggested holding an ASEM summit on natural disaster prevention and combating climate change along with Laos, Indonesia, Germany, Parkistan, Denmark, Netherlands and the European Commission.
Also during the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting in Vientiane, which concluded yesterday, ASEM leaders agreed Asia and Europe need to work together to address the current global crisis and pave the road for more sustainable global growth.
Trade and economic issues dominated the two-day intensive discussion. Noting the substantial uncertainties and downside risks brought in by the global slowdown, ASEM members emphasised the need to reinforce economic partnerships while awaiting the gradual recovery of the European economy. They welcomed the robust performance of emerging Asian economies.
Leaders were resolved to promote growth by restoring confidence in the market and making the financial system more transparent, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, the chair of the summit, said.
European leaders took this opportunity to reassure their Asian counterparts that the worst of the sovereign debt crisis was over.
"The Eurozone is on the right track. The euro is an irreversible project. It is expected that growth will start picking up in the course of 2013," said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
ASEM leaders recognised the role of the private sector in contributing to economic growth and encouraged firms to work together to increase investment and trade flow.
The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to promote trade via an open, fair, transparent and rule-based multilateral trading system and resist all forms of protectionism.
Rompuy said: "The EU is negotiating free trade agreements with many Asian countries to further expand our markets; it is also open to negotiating investment agreements to boost cooperation and create a level playing field."
The importance of regional integration processes was also highlighted during the summit. Leaders stressed the importance of strengthening regional connectivity to support economic integration, including through sub-regional initiatives within Asia and Europe.
The European Union recognised the important role of ASEAN in building pan-regional security architecture in Asia.
Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing political dialogue and maintaining peace and stability, indispensable conditions for establishing sustainable development and prosperity for the two regions.
They have adopted the Vientiane Declaration on Strengthening Partnership for Peace and Development, which aims to promote lasting peace in Asia and Europe.
Leaders also exchanged views on current regional and global issues including climate change, non-proliferation and disarmament, and nuclear safety.
The next summit will be held in Brussels, Belgium in 2014.
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