Vietnam: ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting Lays Groundwork For ASEM summit

Updated On: May 26, 2009

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Senior Officials' Meeting ended in Hanoi on Sunday, on the eve of the 9th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Senior officials from 45 ASEM members discussed and agreed on the topics and program for the 9th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as well as the drafts of documents to be adopted.
The 9th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) opened on Monday with the participation of foreign ministers and delegates from 45 ASEM members in the two-day meeting.

The global financial crisis is high on the agenda for Asian and European foreign ministers meeting in Vietnam but diplomats said the issue of Myanmar could flare on the sidelines.

The military-ruled state is not on the official programme at the two-day ASEM (Asia-Europe) Foreign Ministers' Meeting but the trial of opposition democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has again thrust the country centre-stage.

One diplomat said the Myanmar issue might spark "a lot of discussions on the sidelines" of the ASEM meeting.

An Asian diplomat said both Europe and Asia want better interaction but ASEM meetings were "always hijacked by one issue, which is Myanmar."

Western nations have criticised the military regime for putting Aung San Suu Kyi on trial for breaching the conditions of her long-time house arrest and in a rare move, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), last week issued an expression of "grave concern."

Myanmar "strongly rejected" the ASEAN statement condemning the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, state media said Monday, saying it was "interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar.

On Monday evening ministers are to launch an initiative for what they call rapid containment of "pandemic influenza" in the wake of the global outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

Japan's Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone will help launch a project to store medicines and protective gear to fight swine flu and other new strains of influenza in Asia, the Japanese foreign ministry said. Japan is contributing about 32 million dollars to the effort, it said.

Tamiflu and other anti-flu medicines as well as masks, gloves and other protective gear for 500,000 people will be stored in Singapore and distributed to Asian nations hit by new strains of flu.

Diplomats said climate change is also on the preliminary agenda for the wide-ranging talks.

The ASEM talks group foreign ministers or their deputies from the European Union, the 10-nation ASEAN, China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India


AFP, Myanmar looms over foreign ministers' meeting , 25 May 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hFj0aqu2NlHqjKC78NLEY...

Xinhua, ASEM Senior Officials' Meeting ends in Hanoi , 25 May 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-05/25/content_11428685.htm

Xinhua, 9th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting opens in Hanoi, 25 May 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-05/25/content_11432898.htm

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