Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has called for Asia and Europe to work together even more closely to promote greater connectivity between the two regions to boost development and drive growth.
ASEM leaders gather for a group photo during the 11th ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The Lao PM made the comment when addressing the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit held on July 15-16 in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia.
Chaired by Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the summit brought together 53 delegations from Asia and Europe.
The summit, which also marked the 20th anniversary of ASEM, reviewed the group’s achievements over the past two decades.
ASEM leaders also discussed ways to broaden their cooperation in politics, economics, trade, finance, investment, and social and cultural matters, as well as people-to-people exchanges.
In his speech, Mr Thongloun said the summit, under the theme “20 Years of ASEM: Partnership for the Future through Connectivity”, once again reaffirmed the importance of connectivity in further promoting cooperation between Asia and Europe.
He said the Lao PDR, as a landlocked, developing country, has attached great importance to connectivity with its neighbouring countries, the sub-region and wider regions.
“This is an essential factor in connecting our country with other countries in the region as well as for the overall socio-economic development of our country,” he told the summit.
“In this connection, I am of the view that all countries in Asia and Europe should together exert concrete efforts to enhance connectivity between both regions.”
In order to build a strong foundation for the future development of ASEM, it is necessary that the ASEM countries ensure effective and balanced implementation of ASEM’s three pillars of cooperation, namely political, economic, and social and cultural cooperation, he added.
In addition, the Lao PM said ASEM should revive the meeting of ASEM economic ministers, which has been suspended for a while so that solutions could be sought to resolve the various challenges facing the two regions.
“The meeting of ASEM economic ministers will provide a good opportunity for our economic ministers to discuss ways and means to foster economic cooperation between our two continents towards further growth,” he said.
On the future direction of ASEM, Mr Thongloun said ASEM’s cooperation needs to be deepened and to produce more concrete outcomes, particularly in the area of trade and economics.
“I agree with the proposals by other leaders on the need to boost our cooperation in various areas in the coming years,” he told Asian and European leaders attending the summit.
“In this regard, Laos stands ready to join other member countries in the efforts to strengthen ASEM and maintain its relevance towards real benefit for the peoples of our two regions.”
The Lao PM said that 20 years of ASEM’s existence has proved that Asia and Europe are two interdependent regions that need to further deepen and widen relations.
The summit adopted the Ulaanbaatar Declaration on the Asia-Europe Meeting Into the Third Decade and ASEM11 Chair’s Statement.
During his visit to Mongolia and attendance at the summit, Mr Thongloun held bilateral talks with leaders from Asian and European countries including Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update July 18, 2016)