`Diplomatic Olympics' to Nurture World Unity
In a month's time, Seoul will once again be thrust into the international spotlight. Ten Asian and sixteen European leaders will gather October 20-21 to attend the third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) with Partnership for Prosperity and Stability in the New Millennium as its key theme.
ASEM is a biennial summit which brings together Korea, China, Japan and seven ASEAN countries as well as 15 member states of the European Union plus the President of the European Commission.
Following the end of the Cold War and the emergence of globalization in the 1990s, a new world order is forming with a greater emphasis on regional cooperation.
ASEM countries account for 54 percent of the world GNP and 35 percent of world trade. However, Asia-Europe relations have been overlooked in comparison to relations between Europe and North America and Asia and North America.
Against this backdrop, Asian and European nations reached a consensus on the need to expand cooperation in political, economic, social and cultural spheres. This was the origin of ASEM. The first ASEM was held in Bangkok in 1996, and the second in London in 1998, which concentrated mainly on measures to help resolve the Asian financial crisis, the most pressing issue at the time.
As the ASEM that inaugurates the new millennium, the third ASEM in Seoul has symbolic and substantial significance for both Korea and ASEM in many aspects.
First and foremost, the Seoul ASEM will be a milestone in the continued development of the ASEM process. The ASEM members will focus on the long-term vision for Asia-Europe cooperation while presenting a feasible framework toward such end.
President Kim Dae-jung, who attended the second ASEM in London as his first official trip abroad following his inauguration, will chair the third ASEM and play a leading role in forming a common vision for ASEM.
The third ASEM will also provide a fresh momentum in bringing about concrete and tangible results in the Three Pillars of ASEM--fostering political and security dialogue, reinforcing economic cooperation, and promoting socio-cultural exchange.
Second, the Seoul ASEM will be a good opportunity for Korea to further strengthen trade and economic ties with ASEM members as well as enlarge its role in the world economy.
ASEM countries are Korea's largest trading and economic partners, accounting for 48 percent of its trade and 66 percent of its foreign investment. In Seoul, the ASEM leaders will exchange views on the lessons of the Asian financial crisis and measures to prevent its recurrence.
The Seoul ASEM will also decide on measures to further expand and liberalize trade and investment between the two regions.
As the host for the third ASEM, Korea is consulting closely with ASEM members to introduce several new projects, the most ambitious of which are the Trans-Eurasia Information Network Project proposed by President Kim Dae-jung during his European tour last spring, and projects for narrowing the digital divide, and promotion of global e-commerce. …