European, Asian leaders kick off summit to strengthen cooperation

BRUSSELS, – European and Asian leaders began a summit in Brussels Thursday evening to discuss ways to tackle global challenges and to work closer for free and fair trade.

“We are opening tonight the ASEM Summit, the Asian-European Summit. I believe the presence of 51 countries, the very high level of the delegations both of the European and of the Asian side demonstrates how strategically important is this relationship,” EU High Representative Federica Mogherini told journalists ahead of the meeting.

“We are focusing very much on increasing our partnership with Asia on connectivity, security,” she noted.

Mogherini said they will also discuss the Rohingya crisis.

“It will be also the occasion for us to focus once again on some issues that concern us a lot in particular on human rights issues. I think of the Rohingya crisis,” she noted.

On her part, WAN Azizah Wan Ismael, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia told reporters that “I have come here to represent my country as we have changed the government and to have a say about women empowerment especially as one of the themes in this particular summit.

“The reason why we should actually come closer together is because we are a conglomerate of Asia and Europe. I think working together to help each other, free and fair trade, to enhance each other’s economies and enrich each other is the way forward,” she added.

Mogherini held a bilateral meeting with Wan Ismael at the sidelines of the summit.

ASEM Summit was established in 1996 as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Asia. It is organised every two years, alternatively in Asia and Europe, to set out the priorities of the partnership.

ASEM brings together 53 partners, including the European Union, 30 European countries (28 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland), 21 Asian countries, and the ASEAN Secretariat (Association of South East Asian Nations).

Source: Kuwait News Agency