Bandung - Indonesia's regional and international standing received a boost at the weekend following its hosting of the Asia-Africa Summit that was laden with symbolism but, according to its detractors, short of substance. The meeting ended with the signing of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership that will serve as a new template for political, economic and socio-cultural relations.
The summit was aimed at reviving the “Bandung Spirit” - a bond established half a century ago at a groundbreaking meeting of Asian and African leaders inBandung, 120km from Jakarta, that spawned the Non-Aligned Movement.
In his opening speech, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said for the two continents to progress, they have to work together and engage other countries.
"In today's international conflict, the real challenge for Asia and Africa is not about developing the power to confront, but the power to connect with itself, and also with other international and regional groupings."
He also warned that the alliance of almost 90 countries would falter unless Asian and African nations remain united in their commitment to broad pledges of cooperation and mutual support.
The strategic partnership calls for, among other things, cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, tourism, information and communication technology, energy, health, agriculture, water resources and fisheries. It also commits the members to adhere to the 10 principles that were mooted in Bandung in 1955, such as commitment to open dialogue based on mutual respect and benefit.
The leaders have agreed to meet again in South Africa in 2009 to consolidate the work of the two-day summit.
Mr Amitav Acharya, the deputy director of Singapore's Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, told AFP: "The Bandung spirit is something of a myth, Bandungwas a very successful meeting, it created the Non-aligned Movement. But it was a different time, I'm not sure this will have the same impact, the world has moved on."
* Summit leaders revisit the past (The Manila Times, April 25)
* Asia-Africa's position (Media Indonesia, April 24)
* Susilo optimistic NAASP will be able to overcome Asian-African problems (Antara, April 24)