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ASEAN+3 leaders pledge closer partnership on 15th anniversary

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 19 (Xinhua)– Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan, South Korea and China on Monday expressed their will to forge closer ties during a summit at the Peace Palace in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The summit coincided with the 15th anniversary of ASEAN Plus Three (APT) cooperation, a regional mechanism that functions as a coordinator of cooperation between ASEAN and the three East Asian nations of China, Japan and South Korea.

During their meeting, the leaders took note with satisfaction of the expanding and deepening cooperation among them in all spheres, in particular, politics and security, economy, connectivity, food security and energy.

With the first APT summit held in December 1997, the forum has been playing an irreplaceable role in promoting East Asian unity and coordination, deepening regional economic integration and expanding horizon for common development. In the face of a weakening global economic recovery and complicated international and regional circumstances, the leaders agreed to work collectively to tackle challenges, make good use of the well-established cooperation mechanism and give full play to their own advantages, said a joint statement adopted at the end of the APT Commemorative Summit.

Monday’s meeting reviewed the progress made under the guidance of the 1999 Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation and 2007 Second Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation.

The leaders expressed their continued support for the central role of ASEAN in the evolving regional architecture. “We are pleased to see the fruitful achievements in all fields from the APT cooperation,” said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He added that the Plus 3 countries have formed a strong partnership for ASEAN, contributing to the development of ASEAN and ensuring peace, security, stability and prosperity in the region.

Concerted efforts have also been guaranteed to forge closer APT partnership in their endeavor to build an East Asian Community in the long run, said the joint statement.

“We are committed to further strengthening cooperation and dialogue in political-security area as guided by the APT Cooperation Work Plan in order to address emerging regional and global issues as well as maintain peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” the statement reads.

It was agreed that cooperation in such sectors as education, anti-terrorism and combating transnational crime, disaster management, environment, energy diversification and information exchanges between APT nations should be deepened.

Despite changes in regional and international landscapes, APT cooperation has steadily grown and made remarkable achievements over the past 15 years, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said while addressing the meeting.

“Together, we have tackled a few major crises successfully. One was during the 1997, the Asian financial storm,” Wen said.

The APT summit also adopted the Leaders’Statement on ASEAN+3 Partnership on Connectivity.

Apart from leaders of 10 ASEAN nations, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attended the summit.

The APT summit followed the 21st ASEAN Summit which witnessed the launch of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation ( AIPR) and the approval of the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center in Cambodia.

The bloc achieved another landmark on Sunday with the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, supposedly a “starting point” for the region to address human rights concerns.

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