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Asian, European foreign ministers highlight cooperation, connectivity
Last Updated: 2015-11-07 05:30 | Xinhua
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Foreign ministers from Asian and European countries agreed to strengthen cooperation on climate change, connectivity at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a press conference here on Friday.

"Asia is really at the centre of the EU's Foreign Policy and Security Policy," said Mogherini, adding that since the beginning the new leadership in the EU institutions was investing heavily and consistently in the relations with Asia.

"ASEM is a very important part of this commitment, because we really believe that we have a lot of common ground to work on in concrete terms," she said.

The ASEM foreign ministers' meeting brought together 53 delegations, accounting for around 60 percent of global population, GDP and trade, Mogherini said, adding that, through the discussion and decisions, "We can make a difference in the world."

Under the theme of "Working Together for a Sustainable and Secure Future", the foreign ministers exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues, including climate change, sustainable development and connectivity, according to the chair's statement issued after the two-day meeting.

When attending the meeting, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said the connectivity will drive Asia-Europe cooperation to advance in broader and deeper way.

Wang called on all the parties to build consensus, enhance policy coordination, and promote all the works of life to support or participate into constructing connectivity between Asia and Europe, so as to build up the new type of comprehensive partnership.

Wang also touched on issues such as climate change, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, disaster relief, the Syria crisis and Europe's refugee crisis in his speech at the meeting.

In terms of climate change, the ministers expressed their resolve to work towards the success of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties in Paris.

"We agreed to put all efforts to make Paris conference a success," Mogherini said.

Ministers also agreed to enhance connectivity into all relevant ASEM cooperation frameworks and to further explore the possible establishment of a working group on connectivity in the statement.

They stressed stronger trade and investment relations between the two regions as a means for deeper economic integration and connectivity between Asia and Europe.

"In Europe we have built up our connections through the integration process over the last 60 years. In Asia we have various related initiatives run by different actors that are extremely relevant and interesting also for the EU to connect with," she said.

Mogherini said that representatives for the meeting had decided on a number of concrete projects and ways to share experience on connectivity and to strengthen the linkages between the countries, covering different aspects of connectivity, be that physical infrastructures, transport, energy, digital connectivity and people-to-people linkages with a specific focus on youth, students and their mobility.

The ministers also devoted particular attention to the unprecedented challenge of irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons occurring in Asia and in Europe.

According to the Chair's statement, they discussed the need for comprehensive regional and international responses, including those related to tackling the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement and to providing protection and support to those in need, including improving livelihood and raising awareness in at-risk communities, in accordance with international standards.

"We have shared cooperation ideas on the migration and refugee issue, which, as you know, is at the very top of the agenda both in Europe and in Asia," said Mogherini following the meeting.

ASEM is an intergovernmental forum for dialogue and cooperation which fosters political dialogue, reinforces economic cooperation and promotes collaboration in other areas of common interest.

The 20th anniversary ASEM Summit will be held in Mongolia in 2016 with the aim to determine the direction of ASEM for the next decade.

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