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PGMA rallies support for East Asian Community

TOKYO, Japan, May 24 (PNA) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo rallied
Thursday support for the formation of an East Asian Community patterned
after the European Union (EU) experience to ensure peace, stability and
prosperity in Asia.

In her keynote speech at the 13th Nikkei Conference on "The Future of
Asia" held at the Peacock Room of the Imperial Hotel here this morning,
the President said that at a time when world alliances on Iraq and the
World Trade Organization (WTO) are experiencing strains, it’s important
that new partnerships are formed to ensure global peace and stability.

She said the idea of an East Asian Community transcends geographical
definition since some of its proposed members, including Russia, India and
South Korea, are not part of East Asia. The concept, she added, stemmed
from the common view that "economic engagement is a more compelling
criterion in the minds of our Asian brothers than a geographical
location."

The President said the East Asian Community would be a bold step toward
forging new alliances to keep the world strong and stable, noting that
while the European Union (EU) was historically beset by conflict, it is
now a "force for peace and security."

"The same way in our region that has faced many of the same historic
divisions, a more united region" would also emerge as a force of security
and peace, she added.

She pointed out that it took EU 50 years to attain its current stage of
integration. "We believe our diversity is a strength, not a barrier to an
Asian union that we learned from Asean (Association of Southeast Asian
Nations."

The President said that an East Asian Community is "made especially
important because of the emergence of China." But she quickly pointed out
that the Philippines and Asean do not view China as a threat, but rather
an opportunity. "Asean’s relations, the Philippines relations with China
are now more confident, mature and comprehensive," she added.

The Chief Executive said Asean’s relations with China, along with South
Korea and Japan, have deepened on a number of areas, notably trade and
investments, and "we have faith that relations among them will continue to
warm."

The President also underscored the importance of the relationship between
China and Japan for regional stability in Asia, as she welcomed the
increasingly warm ties between the two Asia economic giants.

She said she was elated to know that the "increasing relationship of trust
between Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe and Premier Wen Jiabao of China
started during the two leaders’ meeting in Cebu" at the 12th Asean leaders
summit last January. (PNA)

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