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Financial turmoil, climate change high on agenda


October 15, 2008

Asia-Europe Summit
Financial turmoil, climate change high on agenda

Asian and European leaders meeting next week in Beijing will seek to build consensus about the global financial crisis as well as longer term threats from climate change, Reuters quoted a Chinese diplomat as saying Tuesday.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jieyi said this Asia-Europe "ASEM" summit on Oct. 24-25 would be an opportunity for national leaders from the two regions to discuss the crisis.

"The seventh ASEM leaders meeting faces an extremely special international background," Liu told a news conference, listing the financial turmoil, energy strains, climate change and food security as chief worries facing governments.

Liu would not confirm reports that Asian countries may meet on the sidelines of the event to discuss the financial crisis. But he was clear that issue was sure to be a focus of the talks.

"I'm sure they will use the ASEM leaders summit as a platform to engage in thorough discussion and explore how everyone can strengthen cooperation, revive investor confidence and get through the crisis through cooperation."

But the once-every-two-years gathering of 45 member states and bodies is unlikely to bring any breakthroughs.

The meetings do not produce binding decisions and shepherd together leaders from two continents that each have enough difficulty bridging their own differences.

ASEM bring together states from across Asia as well as the ASEAN Secretariat, and European Union member states and the European Commission.

Liu acknowledged the summit was unlikely to produce diplomatic fireworks, but said the meetings produced useful initiatives.

"These initiatives may not be headline news and not everyone in daily life can plainly feel their effect, but they really do enhance Asian-European cooperation," he said.

He said the meeting would also discuss climate change policy, as the EU seeks to coax China and other big Asian emitters into clearer commitments in looming negotiations to create a successor to the current Kyoto Protocol, the climate change pact that expires at the end of 2012.

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