ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Asean+3 backs Thai connectivity initiative
The meeting also agreed to Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul's proposal to have the leaders of the 13 countries make a joint statement on the initiative when they meet late this year, to show their strong political will to back it up.
The Asean+3 partnership on connectivity would cover physical linkage of the countries in the region, and also linkage in terms of institutions and people-to-people relations, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi.
The initiative would support and enhance partnership, as well as aiding economic stability and bridging the development gap in the region, he said.
Thailand hosted a workshop last month to explore how the initiative could support the Asean master plan on connectivity, he added.
The 13 foreign ministers yesterday also discussed other issues, including the euro-zone crisis, which could increasingly affect the Asian and global economies.
They assigned the Asean+3 macroeconomic research office to monitor the situation closely.
The ministers welcomed developments in regional financial cooperation, such as doubling the size of a multilateral currency-swap arrangement to US$240 billion (7.6 trillion baht) as part of efforts to shield the region from a financial crisis, said Thani.
On food security, the ministers welcomed the fact that Asean+3 emergency rice reserve cooperation would become effective tomorrow and that Thailand, as the world's major rice producer, had showed its readiness to provide the secretariat for the project.
In regard to rising tension on the Korean peninsula, Surapong expressed concern over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, which he said could affect regional security.
Thailand expects and encourages all concerned parties to have consultations with the North Korean authorities to try to convince the country to return to six-party talks in an attempt to resolve the problem peacefully, he said.
Other Asean foreign ministers, and those of China, Japan and South Korea, also expressed their concern over developments on the Korean peninsula.
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