PH backs stronger Asia-Europe ties

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar -- Philippines has reiterated its support for stronger Asia-Europe cooperation, urging leaders for a more open dialogue to achieve sustainable development between two continents.

During Monday's opening of the two-day 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) here, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose Luis Montales said the country hopes that ties between the two continents will continue amid pressing issues of terrorism, human and drug trafficking, and climate change.

Given how easy it is in today's world to focus on the negative instead of on the positive, on what divides us instead of what unites us, we should be constantly reminded of how we can work together through constructive dialogue to resolve even the most difficult issues, Montales said.

The official delivered his five-minute speech after the opening statement of Myanmar State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the Myanmar International Convention Center here in the capital.

The Philippines representative delivered the message in the gathering of ASEM foreign ministers from 51 countries on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Montales was the second to deliver a speech after the host country, then followed by the European Union (EU).

This meeting provides a strong platform for both meaningful dialogue and functional cooperation on a wide range of political, economic and socio-cultural educational issues between Asia and Europe. Its informal nature allows open and honest exchanges between leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders, Montales said.

The official also assured Asian and European leaders that the country is committed to the cause of peace and sustainable development through key priorities and advocacies identified in the 2015 agenda for sustainable development.

In her speech, Aung San Suu Kyi calls for new and stronger partnerships to address far-reaching challenges such as the impacts of regional and international conflicts on domestic security and the threat of terrorism and violent extremism.

Partnership is crucial for the maintenance and promotion of peace and sustainable development which can only be achieved through collective efforts, she said.

Discussion of the two-day meeting has been centered on key challenges affecting both continents, such as security, trade, climate change, sustainable development goals, and connectivity.

ASEM is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe. Presently it comprises 53 partners: 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the European Union and ASEAN Secretariat.

Source: Philippine News Agency