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India ups stakes in Asia-Europe linkages

Thursday October 11, 2012 01:49:58 PM, IANS

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will go to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, next month to attend the 9th summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting, a 49-member grouping that seeks to build diplomatic and cultural bridges between the two continents.

Krishna is expected in Vientiane Nov 5 for the two-day ASEM summit in Laos, official sources told IANS.

The ASEM summit, in one of least developed countries in Southeast Asia, takes place against the backdrop of the larger shift of economic power from the West to the rest which is epitomised by the festering recession in the eurozone and the rising economic weight of the Asian continent.

The meeting has an added significance for India as it will host the next meeting of the ASEM foreign ministers - one of the largest diplomatic events to be hosted by New Delhi in November next year.

Underlining India's increasing stakes in the ASEM, a two-day meeting of the board of governors of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the institutional arm of the ASEM which serves as an ideas incubator, began in New Delhi Thursday. India is represented by T.C.A. Raghavan, India's high commissioner to Singapore.

The ASEF board's meeting will explore new pathways of collaboration in areas of public health, education and cultural heritage, the sources said.

The ASEF also looks at issues like regulatory regimes for internet governance, an issue that has found an added traction since a movie debunking Islam was blitzed across the social media that provoked some Islamist radicals to target the US consulate in Benghazi last month.

The attack killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya. Ahead of the foreign ministers' meeting in Laos, finance ministers and top officials from India and other countries are likely to meet in Bangkok on Oct 14-15 to explore ways for sharing Asia's dynamic growth with Europe and the rest of the world.

ASEM, an inter-regional forum, consists of, among others, the European Commission, the 27 members of the European Union (EU), the thirteen members of the ASEAN plus 3 (Japan, South Korea and China) regional grouping, India, Mongolia, and Pakistan, Australia, Russia and New Zealand. India joined ASEM in 2007.

The ASEF has as its motto "connected histories and shared future" and was founded in 1997, a year after the leaders of twenty-five European and East Asian countries, together with the European Commission, convened in Bangkok, Thailand, for the inaugural Asia-Europe Meeting.

ASEF, which seeks to promote greater mutual understanding between Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, has completed 500 projects so far, bringing together more than 15,000 direct participants in Asia and Europe.

India is among top contributors to the ASEF after Japan and the EU.





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