THAILAND FOSTERS GREATER ROLE FOR AIT IN THE MEKONG REGION
H. E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Foreign Minister of Thailand, proposed to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to cooperate with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) to promote human resource development in the Mekong subregion.
Dr. Surin's message is quoted in a news item (http://www.nationmultimedia.com/Sunday/02aa04.shtml)
which appeared in the Nation newspaper on 2 April 2000. 'Our future lies with the countries in the region,' Dr. Surin said, 'We need our neighbors in the Mekong subregion to become effective trading partners and to build with us a network of business and investment linkages which transcends borders.'
ASEM: Brunei, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom
The origins of the ASEM process lay in a mutual recognition by Asia and Europe that relations between them need to be strengthened to reflect the increased importance of Asia on the world stage, and to move away from an 'aid and trade' relationship, towards a more balanced relationship based on equal partnership. ASEM traces its beginnings to the first Asia-Europe Meeting held in Bangkok in March 1996, which brought together the heads of state and government of ten Asian countries and fifteen Member States of the European Union. Together with the President of the European Commission, this initial Asia-Europe Summit engendered an on-going process involving summit-level meetings every second year, ministerial meetings (Foreign, Economic and Finance) in each intervening year, and more frequent meetings at the senior-official and working level.
The second ASEM Summit, held in London in April 1998, will be followed by the third ASEM Summit in Seoul in October 2000 and the fourth Summit in Europe in 2002.
Three Ministerial meetings were held in Asia in 1997 and three in Europe in 1999 (Finance Ministers in Frankfurt in January, Foreign Ministers in Berlin in March, and Economic Ministers in Berlin in October). Core Ministerial meetings in 2001 are already set (Foreign Ministers in Beijing, Finance Ministers in Japan, Economic Ministers in SE Asia). France has offered to host the fourth Finance Ministers' Meeting in 2003.
Korea and Thailand will co-chair the Seoul summit together with France as President of the European Union (at that time; Portugal is currently the President) and the European Commission.